By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
A Broward transit superintendent fired last year after county auditors found he’d repeatedly falsified payroll timecards and funneled thousands of taxpayer dollars to a subordinate has been quietly rehired.
Jeffrey Scott’s termination was for “gross misconduct.” A county report at the time declared such action was necessary because “the image and perception of the Transportation Department and of Broward County cannot and will not be compromised.”
But late last month, Scott’s “discipline” was transmogrified into a 10-day suspension and Scott got his old job back at the same annual salary he was earning prior to termination – $93,359.24. Scott also received $47,500 in back pay, plus a restoration of a third of the sick and annual leave he would have accrued had he not been fired, according to a copy of the county’s Sept. 23rd settlement agreement with Scott and his union.
Scott returned to work at the county’s Copans Road bus garage on Sept. 28. He was greeted by balloons, a cake and a welcome-back banner, according to a county employee who works there.
Florida Bulldog obtained a copy of the six-page settlement, which is signed by County Administrator Bertha Henry and Transportation Department Director Christopher Walton, as well as a grievance filed by Scott and Government Supervisors Association of Florida (GSAF) Local 100 shortly after his termination on Feb. 13, 2019.
Neither Henry nor Walton responded to Florida Bulldog requests to discuss why Scott was reinstated.
Scott’s union representative, GSAF Local 100 President Greg Blackman, also did not respond to a request for comment.
Reached without even an arbitrator’s review of the facts, the settlement amounts to a repudiation without explanation by county leadership of County Auditor Bob Melton’s 33-page December 2018 report detailing timecard and payroll fraud at the Broward Transit Division. The auditor investigated after receiving several anonymous complaints.
The capitulation to Scott and the union is unusual because the county typically doesn’t settle such matters, which normally are heard by arbitrators and/or judges. In Scott’s case, the settlement does not contest, and by its silence appears to accept, Scott’s argument that he was fired as a result of a “rush to judgment” triggered by a flawed audit. The audit also led to the firing of Broward bus traffic controller Clifford Combs, who apparently did not contest his dismissal.
Here’s what Scott’s grievance form has to say:
“We believe that this rush to judgment is a result of the County Auditor’s shoddy report in which they did a quick but not thorough investigation and did not question all potential witnesses or review County equipment that verified that Mr. Combs was working on many occasions when they said he wasn’t.
“This report was then printed in the Sun Sentinel and has been followed up by additional reporting. Instead of supporting their management staff they are running in the other direction for fear of being tainted with the rush to judgment initiated by the shoddy Auditor’s Report and perpetuated by a newspaper trying to up their readership,” the grievance states.
In response, Melton told Florida Bulldog on Tuesday that his office’s report is “solid as a rock.”
“I can’t really comment on why they settled as they did. I was out of that loop as far as their proceedings,” he said. “We do our investigation and we issue our report and it’s up to management to take appropriate action.”
Scott’s reinstatement is quite a reversal of fortune for a man who 20 months ago was branded by the county as having “violated the most basic tenants (sic) of an employee in a supervisory capacity, to conduct himself in an honest and trustworthy manner and to lead by example,” according to an employee notice issued to Scott the day he was fired. “Mr. Scott is advised that this type of gross misconduct is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.”
The notice lays out the case against Scott and the various disciplinary meetings with Scott that allowed him to respond to the auditor’s accusations. Among other things, the notice says Scott contended that while his documentation of timecard adjustments was not good “there was never any intent to steal time or defraud the county.”
The notice says that “based on all the available information, including reports and Mr. Scott’s own admissions, the Transportation Department has determined that in his supervisory capacity Mr. Scott displayed extremely poor judgment, violated attendance/punctuality policies, falsified timecard documents and failed to properly carry out his supervisory responsibilities.”
Scott has been a county employee since 1996 and a Broward transit supervisor since 2000. He was nearly fired in 2010 after the county’s Professional Standards Unit, investigating complaints of sexual harassment and discriminatory behavior, found Scott “utilized the County’s email and Internet access to send and/or receive email communications for non-work related activities, including but not limited to email communications of a sexual or discriminatory nature in violations of the County’s Anti-Harassment Policy.”
Instead, Scott was given a written reprimand, a five day suspension without pay and a so-called “Last Chance Warning that any future incidents of the same or similar nature…will result in immediate termination.”