(CBSDFW.COM) – Your tax dollars pay their salaries. But a CBS11 investigation found some Tarrant County precinct 8 deputy constables sometimes working private security jobs at the same time they were being paid to be working for the county.
It started with a tip that alleged that some deputies were spending hours during the day guarding grocery stores, making an extra $20-$30 an hour instead of working for the county, where their responsibilities include serving child support and custody orders and overseeing evictions. Two former deputies told us they complained to Tarrant County’s Human Resources department. “Their idea of investigating was to call them all down one by one and say, ‘Hey did you do this? Oh no I didn’t do this,'” said one former deputy. “And that was the end of it.”
So we started investigating. We spent two months watching the men as they worked at Fiesta and Walmart stores, then we requested their payroll information for that period. We received a payroll log showing how many hours deputies told the county they worked, along with daily activity reports deputies fill out to show the constable how they spent their time. Dozens of those reports were missing. Those we did receive show deputies consistently working fewer hours than they were paid.
TIME SHEETS RAISE QUESTIONS
For example, Deputy Hayward Charles filled out a daily activity report showing he worked 2.5 hours on September 21. County payroll shows he was paid for 14 hours. That same day, we spotted him working at a Walmart outside precinct 8. We found discrepancies between payroll and his daily activity reports for at least 16 days in August, and another 10 in September.
On August 25, Deputy Keith Johnson was paid for 8 hours. But the daily activity report he submitted shows him clocking out at 2 p.m. That’s the same time we saw him working security at a Walmart, also outside the precinct. Three weeks later, Johnson’s daily activity report shows him on “special assignment” from 12:25 p.m. to 1:57 p.m. We found him working at a Fiesta during that period, even though the county paid him for that time.
On August 25 and September 15, we found Deputy Jason Lockett working security jobs. The county paid him for a full day on each date, even though his daily activity reports show he spent several of those hours off-duty, working private security.
Glenn Edney is a part-time deputy. We often found him guarding a Fiesta just a few blocks from the precinct 8 office. He was paid for five of the days we saw him in August and September, even though his daily activity reports were missing for all of them.
The highest-ranking deputy, Chief Arnold Holmes, isn’t required to fill out daily activity reports. On August 10, 17, and 24, he was paid for 10-hour days. We watched him all three days, working off-duty jobs in the middle of the afternoon.
The deputies all report to Constable Michael Campbell, an elected official who makes $112,000 a year. As an elected official Campbell sets his own hours and can go where he pleases. We rarely saw him at the precinct, but we did see him working at Fiesta. On at least two days we saw him relieve Deputy Edney after day-long shifts at the store. On one of those days, Edney was paid for five hours of county work.
Andrea Lucia approached Constable Campbell at Fiesta to ask him about the double-dipping accusations. He said it wasn’t happening. “What you see — and us being here — like I say, is our off-duty time,” said Campbell. “They are not charging the county.” He also mentioned past complaints about the issue. “I know that that has been reported a couple months ago, almost a year ago. And I made sure that I addressed that. It wasn’t happening then, and it’s not happening now.”
Constable Campbell later agreed to sit down with us and go over the records, but only off-camera. He blamed disgruntled former employees for what he called “politically-motivated” complaints. He said Chief Deputy Holmes is responsible for approving “flex time” to avoid overtime issues.
Campbell said he had gone over the records and found nothing wrong, but he seemed surprised when we gave him examples of questionable daily activity reports. By the end of the meeting he promised to “go back over” the logs and investigate further. He later sent CBS11 a statement saying, in part, “the deputies [CBS11] investigated were granted prior approval to work at the designated locations in which [they] were filmed by Ms. Lucia and her Investigative Team. Constable Campbell requested an audit from Tarrant County Payroll and Budget Department for the specified period of time requested regarding the allegations; and was found to be in compliance.” (More of his statement is below.)
County officials dispute the constable’s comment, saying the payroll and budget departments do not do audits.
Constables have almost total autonomy, meaning they operate independently. “County governments are horizontal governments, not vertical governments like cities,” said Tarrant County Administrator G.K. Maenius, “where you have a city council and then they control everything underneath. In Tarrant County we have 68 different elected officials and they are answerable only to the electorate.”
Maenius says the county cannot tell any constable how to run his or her office. However, he has asked the county’s human resources department to look over precinct 8’s time sheets.
“If there’s discrepancies on the time sheets, and individuals didn’t work the hours they said they were supposed to work — if that can be proven,” said Maenius, “then we have the authority to go after that money that was paid out for services that weren’t performed.”
The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office is also looking into the allegations. A spokesperson told CBS11 “we are not able to comment on a pending investigation.
We contacted all of the deputies at precinct 8 about these allegations; none replied to our requests for comment.
Constable Campbell’s statement:
Constable Campbell was not made aware of the length of time that each deputy was filmed while working off-duty hours. Ms. Lucia was provided a copy of the written Policy and Procedures for off-duty employment. The deputies investigated were granted prior approval to work at the designated locations in which were filmed by Ms. Lucia and her Investigative Team. According to the Tarrant County Human Resources department our offices cannot govern what the deputies do while on vacation and/or flex time. Constable Campbell requested an audit from Tarrant County Payroll and Budget Department for the specified period of time requested regarding the allegations; and was found to be in compliance. It is believed that the source of these malicious allegations is a disgruntled former employee.
We also contacted Fiesta and Walmart for their comments.
A peace officer formerly used by Fiesta to help with store security is currently under investigation by the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office. We have been, and continue to be, working in cooperation with the DA’s office to provide any information needed to help in their investigation. Fiesta itself has no other comments regarding this matter at this time.
We contract through a third-party vendor and it is their responsibility who they hire. It is our understanding that the officer would not be on duty for us and the municipality at the same time.
That third-party is a company called Off-Duty Services, which is based in the Houston area. We reached out to them but have not received a reply.