Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Ethics Deal OK'd for Ex-Boone Ambulance Authority Director

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Ethics Deal OK'd for Ex-Boone Ambulance Authority Director

Article excerpt

Ethics Commission members have approved two conciliation agreements for violations of the state Ethics Act, including a $5,000 fine and public reprimand for the former executive director of the Boone County Ambulance Authority, who illegally obtained a $103,000 no-interest loan from the authority in order to buy into a more lucrative state pension plan. Commissioners found that Randall Lengyel violated the Ethics Act's prohibition against using public office for private gain by convincing the president and vice president of the authority's board of directors to approve the loan, which allowed him to transfer from the Public Employees Retirement System to an EMS Retirement System - created under legislation he had sought a year earlier.

Facing a civil suit in Boone County, Lengyel repaid the loan last Oct. 6, according to the agreement.

In addition to the fine and reprimand, Lengyel is required to complete an ethics training course as part of the agreement.

Commissioners also imposed a $5,000 fine and ordered reimbursement of $1,339 in investigation costs against former West Liberty University executive director of planning Ron Witt for conducting work as a private real estate agent from his university office during normal work hours.

Witt, who was an agent for Kennan and Kennan Realtors in nearby Wheeling, argued that former West Liberty president Robin Capehart in 2012 had given him permission to engage in part-time real estate work from his campus office.

Capehart resigned as West Liberty president last March, and in June entered into a conciliation agreement with the Ethics Commission, paying $10,000 in fines and costs, for using university resources and employees to benefit his privately owned independent film production company.

Under the agreement, Witt admitted he had violated the Ethic Act's ban on use of public office for private gain. In addition to the fine and costs, Witt also must complete an ethics training course.

Conciliation agreements are the equivalent of plea bargains, allowing individuals charged with Ethics Act violations to avoid public hearings on the charges.

Also during Thursday's Ethics Commission meeting:

* Executive Director Rebecca Stepto said the commission processed a record 153 formal complaints of possible ethics violations in 2015. …

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