Probe Launched At Franklin County Board Of Elections After 10 Investigates Uncovers Questionable Employee Time Sheets

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A supervisor at the Franklin County Board of Elections is under an internal investigation related to the hours he claimed to have worked in the past 14 months, because of a 10 Investigates' analysis of his records.

10 Investigates is not naming the man because he has not been charged with a crime.

However, the Board of Elections is investigating the man to determine whether he falsified time sheets, a possible crime.

That announcement, emailed by the board's chairman, follows a pattern of time sheet discrepancies uncovered by 10 Investigates.

10 Investigates tracked the man on several days in the months of March, April and May. The surveillance revealed a pattern of erratic times going to and from the man's home to his office at the Franklin County Board of Elections in downtown Columbus.

Time records and parking garage data show a wider pattern of suspicious activity.

The supervisor uses a county paid parking lot. A parking ticket machine records the time of entry and departure.

On dozens of occasions, 10 Investigates found that the man claimed to have worked an 8 hour day, but parking records revealed that he was at the Board of Elections significantly fewer hours. On numerous occasions, the man worked between 2-5 hours.

10 Investigates discovered about 110 hours of the man's unaccounted payroll time that Board of Elections' records could not explain.

Investigative Reporter Paul Aker showed the findings to Catherine Turcer, of the government watchdog group Common Cause Ohio.

"A hundred hours," Turcer exclaimed. "You're talking about more than two weeks of work. That's an astronomical number and it's something that they really should pay good attention to."

On May 5, 10 Investigates asked Board of Elections Director, William Anthony, to explain the situation on camera. Anthony declined the interview request. He later told 10 Investigates by phone that it was possible the man was doing work off-site.

The Board of Elections apparently has no formal process to track such work. Employee time cards are reported in the aggregate. The time sheets only show how many hours a worker claimed to be on the job. They do not require the employee to specify the employee's whereabouts or whether the employee worked off-site.

A BOE spokesman said that employees are tracked by a sign-in book at the counter in the board's lobby.

The supervisor that 10 Investigates tracked only signed that book 17 times in 14 months. Many of those sign-ins seemed to be for the purpose of logging "comp" time. Comp hours allow employees to work extra time and receive an equivalent amount of time off at a later date.

Anthony later told 10 Investigates that the sign-in sheet is an informal process and not required. Yet, many employees seem to regularly check in and out.

"This is sloppy record keeping, and it's not in keeping with the Board of Elections," Turcer said. "And it's not in keeping with the needs of voters who need to know that our money is well taken care of."

10 Investigates also found other employees with questionable payroll records.

One woman wrote on a sign-in sheet that she was "out" for the day even though her time card showed that she worked 4 hours.

Another employee claimed to have worked an 8 hour day when he signed in from 9:30 in the morning to 5:30 in the evening, even though his parking records showed that he was at the Board of Elections for 1 hour and 37 minutes.

The Board is only investigating the supervisor 10 Investigates trailed, according to the statement sent from Board Chairman, Douglas Preisse.

On May 12, 10 Investigates provided Preisse with a detailed explanation of the reporters' findings.

"We take this matter quite seriously, and the allegation is being investigated," Preisse wrote in the statement. "When the investigation is complete, the board will take the employment action proper under the facts."

The man under investigation declined to speak to 10 Investigates about this story.