- By Josh Sweigart Staff Writer
An investigation conducted by a law firm hired by the city of Centerville concluded that former police chief Bruce Robertson did not engage in any misconduct in working a side job teaching training classes while working for the city, according to a statement released by the city Friday evening.
The statement says allegations were made to City Manager Wayne Davis approximately two weeks before Robertson retired on Feb. 9 that Robertson was accepting state payment for teaching at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy while simultaneously being paid by the city as police chief.
Centerville hired attorney Thomas Schiff to investigate the allegations.
“Schiff reviewed the complaint, associated documents and interviewed witnesses in preparing his conclusion that Robertson did not engage in misconduct,” the statement says. “Schiff concluded that Robertson did not fail to perform his duties as chief of police for the city of Centerville and performed such duties in an efficient and effective manner, even during his time teaching at OPOTA.”
No further action is warranted with regards to the allegations, the release says.
This news outlet contacted the city Friday to request copies of investigative records under Ohio public records law. This story will be updated when more information is received.
Former Centerville Police Chief Bruce Robertson was paid thousands of dollars to teach training classes in London, Ohio, at the same time he was under contract to “devote his full-time ability and attention” to his job in Centerville, documents obtained by the Dayton Daily News I-Team show.
Those documents raise questions about whether Robertson followed city procedure in doing side work while police chief.
Robertson retired from the city on Feb. 9 and city officials have said there is an open investigation by the city’s law director into allegations of possible criminal conduct. City officials won’t say whether that investigation is tied to whether Robertson was working two jobs, but they confirm they are looking into that issue.
Robertson’s employment contract was amended in June 2017 to raise his salary to $122,345 and extend his term to Jan. 6, 2019.
Public employees getting paid for side work has been subject of several recent Ohio Inspector General investigations. None of the cases led to criminal charges, though some were referred to prosecutors.
State officials say factors that determine whether a law or policy violation occurred include details of the city’s policy on outside employment, and whether the employee is deemed an hourly or salary worker.
Centerville did not respond to an I-Team request for its personnel policy on outside employment, but Robertson’s employment contract says he cannot directly or indirectly “provide any services of a business, commercial or professional nature to any other person, firm, corporation, organization, or entity (with or without compensation) without prior written consent and approval from the city manager.”
The I-Team obtained and reviewed more than 400 pages of personnel records from the city and found no documents that appeared to show approval by the city manager for outside employment.
Records from the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in London show Robertson was paid to teach 22 classes there since 2014 on topics such as internal investigations and interrogation. In most cases he taught for two days at the class and was paid $600 to $800 for each session.
The I-Team also obtained Robertson’s timesheets from Centerville for those years, which were filled out by hand and signed.
In most cases, records show Robertson took two days of leave during the same week as the two-day class. In seven instances, though, records don’t indicate he took enough leave to cover teaching a two-day class. He was paid $5,200 by OPOTA for those classes.
The I-Team shared its findings with the city of Centerville. City officials declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Robertson could not be reached for comment and an attorney representing him was sent this newspaper’s findings and declined to comment.
Robertson’s letter of resignation says he retired after nearly 40 years with the city because of health issues.
What the law says
State law generally prohibits public employees from using public time, resources or facilities while engaging in private, outside employment. Enforcement of the law for local government employees would fall to local law enforcement, according to state officials.
Greg Flannagan, spokesman for the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office, declined to comment.
“Our office has not been contacted by any law enforcement agency on this matter, and we have no information about it,” he said. “It would be inappropriate for me to even speculate further without being presented with the completed investigation.”
The newspaper’s findings were shared with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which oversees the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.
AG spokesman Dan Tierney said an initial review by the office showed “there was no evidence the contracted work that was paid for was not performed in this situation.”
The Ohio Inspector General’s jurisdiction covers state employees, not local governments. But a sampling of OIG investigations of people accused of doing side-work on public time shows those claims are often handled aggressively.
In September, the OIG released a report that found Ohio Department of Natural Resources law enforcement officer Scott Santos improperly used state time and equipment to manage a side business that provided firearms training for other law enforcement agencies.
Investigators found Santos provided firearms training at the Delaware Wildlife Area to agencies including the Ohio Auditor of State, which paid him $2,605 for the training. He did not conduct the actual training while on the clock for ODNR, they concluded, but used his state-issued computer to schedule training sessions and obtain permits during hours he was working for the state.
The OIG recommended ODNR consider disciplining Santos and referred their findings to the Ohio Ethics Commission.
In a separate case, a 2016 investigation found Ohio Environmental Protection Agency employee Edwin Perez improperly made phone calls and visited websites related to his private property management work while on the clock for the Ohio EPA.
The OIG recommended possibly disciplining Perez and forwarded its findings to the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office. There is no record of charges being brought against Perez in county court.
And in a case from 2015, Ohio Department of Transportation employee Robert Schell resigned after an OIG investigation found he used an ODOT computer and printer for his personal surveying business. The report says Schell’s 31-year public career was previously interrupted when he was fired in 1996 for conducting personal business on ODOT work hours. He he was later rehired.
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