Complaints Against County Workers Found To Be Without Merit

Complaints Against County Workers Found To Be Without Merit

County watchdog publishes findings of six months of investigations

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Allegations that county employees improperly hired or promoted relatives or friends, took kickbacks from a contractor and abused workers compensation leave were among the 39 complaints investigated by the county’s inspector general.

All of the complaints reviewed by the Office of the Inspector General between July and December 2018 were unsubstantiated or have been proven false, according to a report released Monday.

They also included a complaint about the quality of work done by a contractor hired to clean the county’s Ride On buses, an allegation that a fire department worker used a county email account to promote a private business and one that questioned the care provided to animals at the county-run shelter.

Inspector General Edward Blansitt said the issues described in the report are the “more minor issues,” in that, upon review by his staff, the allegations are either found to be false or are unsubstantiated, meaning that they “do not require a full-blown investigation or an audit.”

The office is required to issue an annual report to the County Council and has recently started publishing reports for partial years in attempts to provide transparency about government operations and uncover cases of waste, fraud and abuse.

“We want them to know that these are the types of things that should be brought to their attention, just so they know they’re the types of things that come up,” he said. “It does alert county officials to that fact that maybe they ought to keep their eyes open. People make allegations for a variety of different reasons. Maybe there’s some internal discord in the office.”

Blansitt said the County Council and county executive have the discretion to ask for further investigation.

“If we investigate it and were to have found some evidence that it actually occurred, that’s something we would have taken to the state’s attorney’s office and let them deal with it,” he said. “But the fact that someone made an allegation and expressed a concern does not mean we were able to substantiate the allegation.”

No names were included in the report, Blansitt said, to protect employees.

“If someone accuses you of doing something and there’s no evidence that you did anything, why would you want to make it appear you did something wrong,” he said.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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