Sale of scrap brings rebuke

Boss whose crew used funds for nonwork items is reprimanded

About $1,000 received

State's attorney reviewing incident involving county unit

March 20, 2001|By Scott Calvert | Scott Calvert,SUN STAFF

The county government has reprimanded a roads supervisor after an internal investigation found that his division improperly sold damaged guardrails for scrap and bought T-shirts, coffee and funeral flowers with the money.

The state's attorney's office is reviewing its investigators' report on the matter, which involves about $1,000 worth of metal, although county administration officials say they found no sign of criminal wrongdoing.

Under county policy, scrap metal is supposed to be delivered to the county landfill in Millersville and then sold for recycling. The county's recycling earnings - about $250,000 a year, including sales of aluminum cans and newspaper - help pay for the landfill's operation and services such as curbside recycling.

But employees at the Southern Road District sold battered guardrails directly to a private recycling operation near Washington and did not forward the money, as required, to the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund, the county concluded earlier this year.

The failure to follow that policy lasted two years, the county said.

A letter of reprimand has been placed in the personnel file of Stanford A. Marshall, the Southern District's supervisor, according to Jerome W. Klasmeier, county chief administrative officer.

"All I know is, it was done under his supervision," Klasmeier said. "Whether guys came to him and said, `Let's do it,' or he came to them and said, `Go do it,' I don't know."

In an interview with The Sun, Marshall, who earns $64,817 a year, denied being disciplined. He also said he knew nothing about the sale of scrap metal to private firms or about an investigation.

"Nobody's been reprimanded as far as I know," he said Thursday. Asked about the scrap metal inquiry, he said, "I'm not aware of what you're talking about" and added, "I don't know a thing about it."

Klasmeier said he was puzzled by Marshall's comments.

County spokesman John A. Morris said that between six and 12 employees were involved in the improper sale of the scrap metal. He said other employees were disciplined, but he had no details.

The bulk of the money paid for caps and T-shirts that employees wore at the annual October "Snow Show," Morris said. The event, held at Sandy Point State Park, recognizes workers who drive plows during snowstorms and showcases drivers' skill at maneuvering the cumbersome plows.

Some of the money was used to buy flowers after a colleague, William J. Coates, died, the county's review concluded. Morris said the money also paid for coffee, sugar and creamer for employees at the office.

Klasmeier said purchase of the caps and T-shirts probably would have been allowed had permission been sought through proper channels. "I'm sure it's the kind of thing that would have been approved as team-building," he said.

He expressed doubts about the other reported expenditures. "Generally speaking, they'd have to pitch in themselves for coffee, I would think," he said. "The use of money for flowers is probably inappropriate."

Someone tipped off County Auditor Teresa O. Sutherland last year about the violation of the scrap metal policy. Soon, county prosecutors learned of the situation.

Prosecutors notified Klasmeier, who directed Public Works Director John M. Brusnighan to launch an investigation. Brusnighan declined to be interviewed yesterday, referring questions to Morris, the spokesman.

Morris said he did not know why the roads workers failed to follow the county's policy. "I haven't heard an explanation," he said.

Sun staff writer Andrea F. Siegel contributed to this article.

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