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MYCAP director: Probe would vindicate agency



Published: Thu, January 7, 2010 @ 12:08 a.m.

By William K. Alcorn

YOUNGSTOWN — The head of Mahoning/Youngstown Community Action Part-nership does not believe he has done anything wrong and said he would welcome a full investigation of the agency and himself.

“It would exonerate us,” said Richard A. Roller II, MYCAP executive director, during an interview Wednesday. Richard W. Atkinson, chairman of the agency’s trustee board, also participated in the interview.

Roller, who has been MYCAP’s director for about 10 years, said the release by the Ohio Department of Development of a special financial and program-review report before it was complete has damaged the local agency and his own reputation.

“I recognize the state’s right to look at our funds; and if anything is wrong, I’d be glad to fix it,” Roller said.

Roller and Atkinson said the state review began after MYCAP told ODOD on Sept. 29, 2009, that it was conducting an internal investigation about a supervisor who was alleged to have solicited loans from employees and vendors.

The employee and his staff were placed on paid administrative leave. When it was discovered that he had a criminal record that did not permit him to have a “position of public trust,” he was “permanently laid off.”

The state notified MYCAP on Oct. 9, 2009, that it planned its own investigation, based on unsolicited feedback regarding weatherization issues at the agency. ODOD representatives spent Oct. 26 and 27 at the local agency going over records.

“We told the state about our internal investigation, and now we’re being punished for doing what we are supposed to do,” Atkinson said.

“This is an outstanding agency, and Richard is an outstanding administrator,” said Atkinson, who, along with Roller, is in a quandary about what’s behind the investigation.

“As a board, if we made a mistake, we’ll correct it and put policies in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Atkinson said.

The upshot of the unsolicited feedback, which Roller said was supplied by the permanently laid-off MYCAP employee, is what ODOD calls issues and concerns in its report, and questioned costs of $15,101.

In its report, ODOD said it received information from a laid-off MYCAP worker that weatherization services were performed at Roller’s home by MYCAP employees.

Roller and Atkinson explained what occurred with the weatherization issue, something they said the state has not given them a chance to do in person.

Roller said another home, that of the laid-off employee, was to have been used for required weatherization-training purposes for assessors and work crews in 2006, but the offer of the home was withdrawn.

“We used the executive director’s home because it was available and convenient and the training had to be done quickly,” Atkinson said.

“Not a penny of agency money was used in my house at that time,” Roller said.

About a year later, weatherization materials were installed in his house, according to the state report.

Roller said the MYCAP weatherization employees did work on his home but not on company time. They were paid directly by him, not with MYCAP funds. He said he reimbursed MYCAP for all materials used.

Roller agrees with the state that $85.46 in vehicle expenses were not reimbursed to MYCAP. “They were overlooked and will be repaid,” he added.

The vehicle expenses were part of the $15,101 that ODOD questioned in its report.

Roller and Atkinson addressed the questioned expenses item by item. A total of $10,138 was paid to employees placed on paid administrative leave, as per board policy; $2,312 represents legal fees to determine the employment status of the laid-off supervisor and MYCAP’s response to the allegations made against the employee.

Roller said $975 in vendor payments were legitimate expenses approved by the board but that they need more documentation; $951 represent valid payments of employee wages for training; and $639 in miscellaneous per diem expenses noted by the state report were justified.

The ODOD report also raised concerns about several of Roller’s relatives working for the agency, including his brother, Jason, who is food-service manager.

Richard Roller said he “strictly adhered” to MYCAP’s nepotism policy, which says that agency employees cannot live in the same household. The policy is not geared toward family members specifically but toward people living in the same household, he said.

MYCAP has until Jan. 31 to respond to the state’s financial and program-review report.

alcorn@vindy.com

SEE ALSO:Youngstown to end pact with MYCAP before Feb..


Comments

1UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Another valley crook. I hope they put him in jail for a long time. Look at all his family working in the agency?

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2jrobie58(5 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

I think that everyone should take a deep breath and not rush to judgement. The report is a preliminary report with MYCAP not having the ability to respond. The claims come from a terminated employee with an axe to grind which isn't a credible source of information. MYCAP does great work in the community with the programs that they administer. Every minute spent by Richard Roller defending himself against false claims are minutes that could and should have been used to stregenthen MYCAP's programs.

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3HaydenThomas(208 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

The standard procedure for the caught crook in the Mahoning Valley is:

1. Deny
2. Deny
3. Plead Guilty to avoid punishment
4. Apologize (for being caught)
5. Slap on wrist

Check out how many family members and friends he has helped get employed.

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4Millie(192 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

jrobie must work for a similar agency to defend this.

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5Silence_Dogood(1356 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

"The employee and his staff were placed on paid administrative leave. When it was discovered that he had a criminal record that did not permit him to have a “position of public trust,” he was “permanently laid off.”"
ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT HERMAN HILL HERE.

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6jrobie58(5 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Unfortunately people tend to believe stories just because they are in the paper or on the news. We in the Mahoning Valley are so conditioned to believe that there must be corruption just because someone says its so. The bias that is shown to all of us here are as a result of past elected officials who have done wrong. This area has a black eye of corruption associated with it and if we as Mahoning Valley residents don't stand up we will never escape that stigma. Its too early to judge but if Mr. Roller has done some wrongdoing he should be punished. I'm not just going to make my decisions until I hear ALL the facts

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7Tjay(8 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

jrobie, your approach is far too rational and logical to come from someone living in Youngstown.

People whose own lives are sorry will grasp at anything that will puff them up a little bit and make them feel "superior." That's what you're seeing here. You don't think they'll let a pesky little thing like facts get in the way of this process, do you?

Certainly, there is no shortage of corrupt public officials...but in America we're still supposed to take these things on a case-by-case basis and decide each on its merits. I'm guessing a lot of the folks here consider themselves great flag-waving patriots; yet they're very quick to forget this fundamental tenet of our system of laws.

I'm sure, too, that if the brother of one of these individuals were convicted of a crime, they would take great offense if I said "Well, obviously, you're a crook too."

Bottom line: there are facts in this case...they will come out...and then and only then should we pass judgment.

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8bfpeer08(5 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

How dare you people say rude things about Jason Roller! none of you even know him. He is a good man and cares about the children. SO SHUT UP! People need to stop jumping to conclusions about Roller's family! Just because people are related doesn't mean they are all the same! There are many workplaces that hire their family members when one of the members get fired for stealing they all do not get fired. Just to let HAYDEN THOMAS ,UNION FOREVER AND MILLIE KNOW THAT PEOPLE SHOULDN'T JUMP TO CONCLUSION ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE. SO SHUT UP!

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9chickiebaby(2 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Obviously...someone is doing something they shouldn't be...whether it is minor or major...and those people should be held responsible for their actions!

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10mystory2010(3 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Ha La Lu Ya!

I never thought this day would come. It is about time this agency got caught for spending agency money for their personal use.

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