Wright State University agreed to pay up to $250,000 to an affiliated non-profit to hire former WSU police chief Michael Martinsen a year after he was terminated from the university, according to a forensic audit of Wright State’s research arm released last week.
Included in Martinsen’s compensation was a $50,000 signing bonus, according to the audit.
“Wright State paid (Advanced Technical Intelligence Center) for Mike Martinsen’s contract work in settlement of a complaint that Martinsen brought against the university through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for gender discrimination and retaliation,” said a statement by WSU spokesman Seth Bauguess Friday in response to questions about the contract.
Martinsen declined to comment for this story.
Martinsen was terminated by Wright State in March 2014 after a six-month paid suspension following allegations of misconduct, according to his personnel file obtained by this newspaper. Martinsen has maintained he did nothing wrong, and an Ohio Department of Job and Family Services review in 2014 found he was fired “without just cause.”
Auditors with the firm Plante Moran also raised questions about how the Wright State Advanced Research Corporation, which handles research contracting for the university, recorded the expenses for Martinsen’s work for ATIC.
The transaction was recorded as a credit to an expense account for rent — an accounting the audit called unusual.
“It is possible that this entry was recorded in this manner in order to ‘hide’ the invoice; however, we cannot validate the reason for this questionable entry,” the auditors wrote.
An invoice from ATIC to WSARC for $255,000 was included in the audit.
WSARC director Dennis Andersh said in an interview Friday he believes the full contract amount was paid, but he wasn’t involved in the arrangement and knows nothing about how and why Martinsen was hired. He said the strange accounting was simply a “mistake.”
“Someone entered it into the ledger incorrectly, and it was later corrected,” he said.
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Auditors said they had trouble initially getting information about the transaction from ATIC officials.
“When we presented a copy of this invoice in our interviews with (ATIC finance officials) Tim Feeser and Janet Erickson, neither individual wanted to discuss it,” the auditors wrote. “Tim Feeser stated, ‘I don’t want to talk about that one.’”
Asked for comment, Feeser this week referred all questions to Wright State.
Erickson told auditors that she had prepared the invoice from ATIC and that the funding was used to hire Martinsen.
“Janet Erickson represented that it was recommended by WSU that ATIC hire Martinsen and that WSU would provide the funding for his compensation,” the auditors wrote. An email given the auditors by Erickson showed that the funds were provided through a grant to ATIC’s Center for Law Enforcement Analysis and Training, or CLEAT.
Reached for comment this week, Erickson — who no longer works for ATIC — said she was hesitant to discuss the issue with auditors because, “I wasn’t privy to all the information on the questions they were asking. I didn’t want to give false information or be misquoted.”
Erickson said she knew that Martinsen helped recruit trainers for the nonprofit’s law enforcement training classes. She said she was not involved in the decision to hire him or how his contract was structured.
“I was just the finance manager,” she said.
ATIC in March 2015 entered into a two-year contract for Martinsen to work for CLEAT. In addition to the $50,000 signing bonus, he would receive $175 an hour, with a maximum payout of $250,000, according to the audit.
Auditors note that Martinsen also signed a “certificate of acknowledgement” releasing WSU and ATIC from any legal claims.
Martinsen’s personnel file includes an October 2014 letter to Martinsen from former WSU chief general counsel Gwen Mattison saying there was insufficient evidence to justify the allegations. She said, however, that “(WSU’s) decision to terminate your employment was based upon factors independent of the complainants’ allegations.”
Wright State officials have not commented on the reason for Martinsen’s termination beyond providing a copy of his personnel record.
The Plante Moran audit includes invoices from Martinsen billing ATIC by the hour for “confidential investigation services.”
Prior to the audit’s release on April 7, Wright State and ATIC both refused to confirm or deny whether Martinsen was providing services for ATIC, which WSU officials maintain is a separate non-profit and not subject to state public records laws.
In March 2016, this newspaper asked under Ohio public records law for “records of any payment to Martinsen after his separation (2014 to present), including any payment made through WSARC, WSRI, ATIC or any other related entity.”
“The University has no additional records responsive to your request,” Bauguess wrote in an email.
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Staying with the story
This newspaper is your only source for information on the budget problems and investigations involving Wright State University. See Sunday’s newspaper for more on the story, and go to myDaytonDailyNews.com for past stories.