An employee of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (OSUWMC) accepted thousands of dollars in gifts from a vendor before hiring the vendor for an OSUWMC position, according to a report from The Office of the Ohio Inspector General (OIG).
Matthew Daugherty, a former sales rep with Accu-Tech, allegedly gave thousands of dollars in meals and entertainment to OSUWMC Network Infrastructure Manager Shawn Brown and other public employees at the university’s medical center over the course of several years.
When Brown later hired the sales rep for a job at OSUWMC, OIG received an anonymous tip that Daugherty had given Brown “lunches, dinners, a bachelor party, and tickets to Ohio State University football games,” and was hired despite lacking a required technical certification.
The complainant explained that OSUWMC “contracted with Accu-Tech to provide information technology materials” after Daugherty had given numerous gifts to Brown. University policies and state law strictly limit gift-giving between public employees and vendors.
Section 102.03(e) of the Ohio Revised Code states that “no public official or employee shall solicit or accept anything of value that is of such character as to manifest a substantial and improper influence upon the public official or employee with respect to that person’s duties.” OSUWMC’s Vendor Interaction Policy prohibits vendors from “directly supplying meals, food, snacks, or other food items to OSUWMC staff.”
During OIG’s investigation, Accu-Tech confirmed that Daugherty had purchased $4,901 in meals and other entertainment for Brown, and investigators found evidence Daugherty spent $2,712 on other OSU employees.
At a total of $7,613, Daugherty spent an average of $190 per meeting with OSUWMC employees while working as as an Accu-Tech salesman.
In addition to dinners at restaurants and bars including Kobe Japanese Steakhouse, Cap City Diner, Dugouts Sports Bar, and Whiskey Dick’s, OIG investigators discovered that Daugherty held at least a dozen private parties for Brown and other OSUWMC employees whose business he was seeking.
Daugherty admitted to falsifying Accu-Tech expense reports, but insisted that he provided false expense information to his employer only on rare occasions.
Four months after denying any knowledge of Daugherty, OSUWMC IT Procurement Consultant Sam Stephens told OIG investigators that he vaguely recalled meeting the Accu-Tech salesman. Stephens then refused to speak with investigators further.
On top of the other allegations, the OIG report indicates Daugherty was briefly employed by both Accu-Tech and OSUMC.
“The clear conflict is two-fold: one, you have policies that are in place at Ohio State that would say it’s not permissible to accept things of value from vendors; then you have the state Revised Code that delves into this, as well,” Deputy Inspector General Carl Enslen told Media Trackers.
“State employees just need to realize that they can’t be taking things of value, or of any substance,” Enslen said.
He continued, “We need to remind public employees of the fact that being well-mannered and friendly is a good practice, but — at the same time — you gotta remember that, at some point, you gotta be able to say ‘no.'”
As of January 14, Daugherty was still employed by OSUWMC. OIG provided copies of its report to Columbus and Franklin County prosecutors, as well as the Ohio Ethics Commission.