Butler, OH, United States (4E Sports) – The Ohio Inspector General is currently investigating 18 state wildlife employees for allegedly hunting deer while on duty.
According to an OIG report, Division of Wildlife employees from Butler and Champaign are among 18 workers under internal investigation and facing possible criminal penalties.
The state-wide investigation started in 2012 after the OIG received a photo of two wildlife employees in Brown County in partial uniform posing with a bevy of dead deer.
The OIG compared employee timesheets to deer harvesting records for the years 2009 and 2010 and found 79 Division of Wildlife employees who potentially harvested deer on days they worked regular hours, overtime or were off on non-vacation leave, such as sick leave.
Of those, the office found 26 who potentially harvested deer while on duty while records were missing for eight.
However, the other 18 employees investigators found either reported they were at work while hunting, or reported they were not at work, but claimed the hours anyway.
“Either they were working and hunting for their own benefit, or they were hunting and they over-reported their time,” said Ohio Deputy Inspector General Carl Enslen.
This includes Joshua Zientek of Butler County, who claimed 14 hours regular pay for Dec. 20, 2009, during hours he reported harvesting a deer; and Jeffrey Tipton of Champaign County, who reported harvesting a deer during a 10-hour work day on Jan. 9, 2010.
ODNR spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle said one of the employees has retired and the other 17 have been placed on administrative duties while the department investigates whether to take administrative action against them.
“The culture is changing. This is unacceptable and it will not be tolerated,” she said.
The inspector general’s report was forwarded to county prosecutors in 18 Ohio counties, each of whom will consider whether to press charges.
County prosecutors in Butler and Champaign claim they are reviewing the cases.
Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser said he will see what disciplinary action the state takes before deciding whether to spend county resources pursuing criminal charges.