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Centerville: Former police chief violated contract, but not law

Former Centerville police chief Bruce Robertson did not break the law by getting paid by the state for teaching classes during the same hours his timesheets say he was working for the city as chief, according to an investigation by an attorney the city hired to review the allegation.

The investigation found Robertson violated the terms of his contract by not getting written permission for the side teaching job at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, but that he had verbal permission from the former city manager.

Current City Manager Wayne Davis said he would have made sure to get the approval in writing per the contract, but at this point he sees no value in taking action on the contract violation because no one was harmed by the oversight.

PREVIOUS REPORT: Former police chief’s side work under scrutiny

The investigation was launched after an unnamed police officer on Jan. 26 wrote a memo to Davis and the human resources director alleging Robertson committed theft in office. The officer sought whistleblower protection under state law.

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“(Robertson) failed to use leave as required while teaching at OPOTA and thus received improper compensation from two taxpayer funded entities,” the memo says.

The Dayton Daily News I-Team reviewed OPOTA records and Robertson’s hand-signed timesheets from 2014 through 2017 and found that while Robertson usually took leave on days he was teaching, there were instances where he didn’t take enough leave to cover teaching a two-day class. He was paid $5,200 for those classes.

Robertson was paid $123,888 last year by the city, according to city payroll records.

RELATED: Salaries, government spending revealed through I-Team Payroll Project

The city law director hired Thomas Schiff, a Kettering attorney who serves as Germantown’s city prosecutor and was formerly a county prosecutor, to review the allegations.

“(Schiff) was chosen because we had allegations of criminal misconduct, and as a former prosecutor he understands obviously how to conduct an investigation into criminal matters,” Davis said. “If he had found evidence of criminal misconduct we would have a separate law enforcement authority conduct an investigation as a follow-up.”

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Schiff reportedly completed his review last week and the I-Team obtained a copy of it this week.

The report says Schiff reviewed the records and spoke to city employees, including the complainant, who said other officers are required to take leave to teach. The fact the chief took leave on most occasions confirms he thought it was required, the complainant told the investigator.

RELATED: Centerville police chief retires after nearly 40 years

“While, under different circumstances, the allegations might have validity,” Schiff wrote, he concluded no criminal violation occurred in this instance.

“It is my opinion that because Chief Robertson did not fail to perform his duties as Chief of Police for the City of Centerville in an efficient and effective manner and, further, because Chief Robertson’s contract with the city did not require him to work any set number of hours for the City, he therefore did not commit a criminal offense,” Schiff wrote.

Schiff did find that “there may have been a technical violation of Chief Robertson’s contract with the city” because the contract requires written permission from the city manager before Robertson accepts outside employment and no such record exists.

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But that violation isn’t criminal, Schiff concluded. And he wrote that former city manager Greg Horn encouraged Robertson to teach at OPOTA, gave him verbal permission and was aware of the days Robertson was in London, Ohio, where OPOTA classes are held.

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