Monday, October 03, 2011

Questions Raised About Ballard Administration's Vetting Of City Employees

The Ballard administration has made it a major priority to offer hard-to-employ individuals a second chance, including those with criminal records, as a way of combating the problem of criminal recidivism. The administration  boasts that 10% of all new hires include people with past criminal convictions. The administration is not only knowingly hiring people with known criminal records but is also hiring people without even vetting them to determine if they have outstanding police warrants for their arrests or other issues that should raise alarm bells. That's what appears to have happened in the hiring of a 30-year-old man, Arthur Johnson IV, to work as a cashier at the Department of Code Enforcement. Johnson stands accused of stealing $20,000 from the Department by pocketing payments persons who obtained permits from the Department by paying for them in cash and then voiding their permits in the system so the money couldn't be tracked. WTHR's Sandra Chapman reports on Johnson's troubling past:

The City of Indianapolis has hired ex-felons, giving them a second chance to right their wrongs. But what if you discovered the clerk you're handing your cash to is currently wanted on outstanding warrants and the city doesn't have a clue? 13 investigates found just that, and uncovers a gap in the city's policy on background checks.
Arthur Johnson IV, 30, is a wanted man. The former city employee is accused of stealing more than $20,000 right under the city's nose. Johnson was a cashier at Code Enforcement, collecting fees from contractors for city permits . . .
Arthur Johnson's problems didn't just begin with his employment with the city. 13 Investigates has discovered he was already wanted before he took the job.
In April 2008, Arthur Johnson was arrested by IMPD for failing to appear in court on a reckless driving charge out of Lake County. The warrant was issued March 2, 2001.
The Lake County Sheriff's Department says that same warrant was reissued months after Johnson's arrest and is still active today. The city didn't have a clue when it hired Johnson in 2007 . . .
In Arthur Johnson's case, two local police reports link him to fraud investigations.
In January 2005, a manager at an east side Taco Bell named Johnson as a suspect, saying "noticed a refund in the amount of $499.00." The report went on to say that the business does not do refunds and certainly not for that amount. Johnson, the suspect, was using the register at the time. She says Johnson was scheduled to work the next day but "did not call or show up."
In a police report from July 2000, a gas station manager says, "when he would run the card, the suspect (Johnson) would use the complainants credit card number to order merchandise."
Johnson was not criminally charged in either incident . . .
The City's HR Director, Nathan Maners, tells Chapman the city uses "one of the best third party vendors" to do background investigations on potential employees. Those investigations, however, only look for criminal convictions; it doesn't search for outstanding warrants or police reports of which the applicant was a subject of a criminal investigation. Maners declined to comment on whether the city should have relied on other information in determining whether Johnson was a good fit for the job in which he was placed. The Ballard administration pretty much set the tone for these kind of hires when it named Olgen Williams, a convicted felon, to the high position of deputy mayor in charge of neighborhoods. Williams had been convicted of felony theft while he was employed by the U.S. Post Office where he had stolen money to help feed his drug addiction. Williams managed to use political connections to win a pardon from former President George W. Bush, which allowed him to run for the Indianapolis Public School board prior to his appointment as deputy mayor.


Unknown said...

Most of these clowns are coming in through the Steve Quick hiring plan.

Unknown said...

What do you expect when you hire a fox to watch the hen house?