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WASTE WATCH: ODNR Officer Accused of Misusing Position
COLUMBUS -- An investigation reveals a state employee misused his position to go on vacation for free.
Officers with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Keep a watchful eye over state parks all year. Especially popular this time of year is renting rooms at the lodge or booking a cabin, which can cost almost $200 a night.
"Either you pay or you don't stay. That's just the bottom line," said Choanty Lumford of Springfield.
But an investigation by the Ohio Inspector General found ODNR Supervisor Gene Shrum didn't follow follow the rules, because he vacationed at state parks with his family, for free. The newly released report says, "Shrum did accept complimentary lodging at Punderson State Park, during the years of 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012."
Altogether, the overnight stays would've cost about $1200 dollars.
"We work hard for our money and we have to pay and everyone else should have to pay too, no matter who you are," Lumford said.
Part of the Inspector General's report has pages of evidence, proof that what Shrum was doing wasn't on the up and up. In fact the documents list numerous times when he would check into cabins and not pay a dime.
"It's another official who is given a privilege of authority and he takes advantage of it," said Killian Gordon, a camper at Hueston Woods State Park.
But that's not all. When Shrum found out the Inspector General was investigating he got the lodge manager to change the reservation records, replacing Shrum's name with a friend's. When the Inspector General questioned the manager, she said she did comp rooms or cabins to Shrum on numerous occasions. She also admitted to changing some reservation records.
We asked ODNR to comment on the findings. The department didn't respond to our request. But we do know Shrum no longer works there.
ODNR has 60 days to respond to the Inspector General's investigation. Another worker was busted for the exact same thing last year. Now ODNR must come up with a plan to make sure this doesn't happen again.
If you suspect local or state goverment wasting your money, we want to investigate. Call our Waste Watch Tip Line (937) 262-1426. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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