Inspector General: Baltimore Housing Department employee stayed on payroll after moving to Europe

A senior staff member at the Baltimore Housing Department was allowed to stay on the payroll as a full-time employee after moving to Europe to study and while logging just a handful of hours of remote work, the city’s inspector general has found. (Jerry Jackson / The Baltimore Sun)

A senior staff member at the Baltimore Housing Department was allowed to stay on the city’s payroll as a full-time employee after moving to Europe to study and while logging just a handful of hours of remote work, the city inspector general found.

Another employee received a similar deal after moving to the West Coast, the investigation found.

Both employees continued to receive benefits and they improperly used sick time to collect full paychecks, according to a report Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming released Tuesday.

A senior manager at the department approved the arrangements, which cost the city $14,840, Cumming wrote. The workers have since returned the money.

The two employees each made more than $90,000 a year, according to the report’s summary. That portion of the report, which is released publicly, did not name them.

In a written response included in the public documents, Housing Commissioner Michael Braverman said the issues occurred as agency leaders tried to minimize disruption “during a time of transition for the agency.”

“There was a miscommunication in the instructions given to staff during this time, resulting in agency procedures not being properly adhered to,” Braverman said.

The first employee moved in September to Europe and stayed onto the city payroll until February, the inspector general wrote.

In September and October, he worked 4.25 hours per week, according to the summary. He took November and December off, before working an average of two hours a week until leaving the job for keeps on Feb. 11. The account said the employee collected a full paycheck while in Europe, in part by using the equivalent of almost seven weeks’ worth of sick days — despite never reporting being ill.

The second employee left for the West Coast in August and remained on the payroll until November. She helped train her replacement, working 15 hours per week. Part of her paycheck was also made up with sick leave, even though she didn’t claim any illness.

Had the employees resigned when they left Baltimore, they would have not been paid for accrued sick leave.

The senior manager who approved the deals gave their login information to the department’s timekeeper so the timekeeper could enter information and approve the employees’ timesheets, according to the summary.

Braverman wrote that the city was reimbursed for the pay the employees had received improperly since they moved away and managers have been trained on time and attendance policies.

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