Ohio township to further investigate fire chief accused of double-dipping salary
A resident accused the Morgan Township chief of collecting an extra $8,769 when he was deployed to Hurricane Ida with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency
Denise G. Callahan
Journal-News, Hamilton, Ohio
BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio — The Morgan Twp. trustees met in a lengthy emergency executive session Tuesday afternoon to discuss allegations against Administrator/Fire Chief Jeff Galloway and decided to hire a human resources consultant to investigate further.
Township officials and the Butler County Prosecutor's Office opened an investigation last week after resident Kevin Dye launched a litany of allegations against Galloway, including he allegedly double-dipped his salary, collecting an extra $8,769 when he was deployed with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency helping the victims of Hurricane Ida in Louisiana a year ago.
"You received a salary, you claimed that salary with a government agency you basically were paid twice," Dye said.
Trustee Board President Tom Brucker convened an emergency executive session Monday afternoon that lasted three hours. He said the trustees are still going through documents on their own but also hired Clemans Nelson, a firm that specializes in human resources.
He said they will look "at everything from an administrative level to see if there is anything that could possibly have been done fraudulently or whatever. From an administrative level, no criminal, nothing like that."
Last week he told the Journal-News he was giving Galloway the benefit of the doubt, "But if something comes up, he's on his own."
"The other day I said you're still our employee, we still support you, but in the event the find something that they determine it it is worth an investigation, you'll have to accept the consequences," Brucker said. "But right now you are our employee and we are supporting you, we are your advocate. We're giving them the information and trying to defend you."
Galloway told the Journal-News he can't comment while this matter is ongoing.
When Galloway explained he took comp or vacation time, Dye said "if you have to explain it to me you can explain it to an investigator. It's very clear what occurred here; you were paid twice for your salaried pay and you claimed it in writing to a government agency ... there are two crimes that occurred there."
Records obtained by the Journal-News show Galloway received his regular bi-weekly paychecks for $2,557 for Sept. 5 through Sept. 18 and Sept. 19 through Oct. 2 as usual. Then another direct deposit for $5,313 for hourly and overtime wages for the first pay period and $3,456 net for the second. He was in Louisiana from Sept. 10-24 and worked a total of 88 regular hours and 138 of overtime.
The township sent an invoice to the Emergency Management Assistance Compact for $22,309. The document was signed by Galloway's wife, Penny, who is a captain for the fire department, which is another bone of contention for Dye. The township received the reimbursement last month and it was deposited into the fire fund.
Brucker told the Journal-News Galloway and firefighter Tony Shroyer were both deployed for Ida. The time for Shroyer — who is paid hourly — was properly reimbursed.
Township records show Shroyer received a $2,789 check for working 48 regular and 79 overtime hours the first week, and $1,798 the second week for working 40 regular and 43 overtime hours.
"Galloway on the other hand took his paycheck, his salary, and then turned in the time sheets for both straight and overtime. He was only eligible for overtime," Brucker said. "So the straight time pay for those two pay periods are what are in question. We're looking to see if it was an oversight or it was deliberate."
When local jurisdictions send their people to assist with national emergencies like hurricanes, wildfires and floods the state where the disaster happened pays for time and expenses. Brucker said the township paid the money up front and obviously it took time to receive the reimbursement.
Dye also had concerns about nepotism and the fact Galloway holds two administrative roles in the township. Brucker told the Journal-News there are questions about why Penny Galloway signed the reimbursement form.
"That's something we are looking into, that definitely raised some questions, I'll just give you that," he said noting the township fiscal officer would normally have that duty.
But when Galloway became the fire chief in 2015 — Penny already worked in the fire department — the trustees took steps to make sure the chief had no direct involvement in his wife's employment. She reports to the assistant chief and major issues go directly to the trustee board.
The Journal-News asked the Ohio Ethics Commission about the dual role issue.
Paul Nick, executive director for the OEC, said generally speaking there are guidelines regarding public employees wearing two hats but it isn't strictly prohibited.
"The conflict of interest laws themselves don't prohibit it but they regulate it," Nick said. "So that if issues come up involving the township that involve the fire department and vice versa he'd be required to recuse himself. And if that recusal becomes so systematic that it makes it impossible to do the job then that's where the compatibility may come into play."
(c)2022 the Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio)