Investigation: Ohio EPA staffer did side job on state time


Investigation: Ohio EPA staffer did side job on state time

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency should consider expanding its rules against agency employees doing private work on the clock after an employee was found conducting real estate work from his office, according to the Ohio Inspector General.

In its first investigation released this year, the OIG found that Edwin Perez, an environmental specialist in the air pollution control division south of Cleveland, made more than 700 non-work-related phone calls and more than 3,500 visits to real estate websites over six months.

Co-workers said it was well known Perez spent much time fixing up, flipping and renting properties.

“His truck usually has appliances in it on most days or paint supplies or things that look like, you know, you would be redoing homes or, or something of that nature,” Ohio EPA Northeast District Office Air Pollution Supervisor Tim Fischer told investigators.

“There’s something new in there every day. I think everybody here just kind of knows he has the side business uh whether, you know, that’s on work or not. Um you know I get, I get some, you know, people saying, ‘Well, you know, Ed’s just more concerned about his side business.’ ”

The OIG investigated the employee at the request of the Ohio EPA after comments from an employee during an exit interview, the report says.

Perez told investigators his use of state resources for these purpose was infrequent and for his personal residence and family, not any side business.

“I mean I’m not taking advantage of state property or anything like that. So um … you know, that’s the point and uh the … the uh, uh rents that we’re getting is to subsidize our kids’ college funds. And the um, the Equity Trust Company that’s under a self-directed IRA, that’s to uh help um … you know, uh help us in retirement,” the OIG’s report quotes hims as saying.

In addition to clarifying rules about secondary employment and re-training employees, the OIG recommends the state EPA consider administrative action or training for Perez. The OIG also referred the case to the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office for consideration.

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