Thursday, January 1, 2004

Inspector moved on complaint of conflict

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DOWNTOWN - A Cincinnati building inspector will be transferred after city investigators accused him of directing a property owner to his father's repair business.

Al Taylor, a building inspector who has worked in the Hazard Abatement Program for 10 years, referred the out-of town owner of a condemned Madisonville house to Ron Taylor Repair Co., officials said.

The company later did more than $10,000 of work on the house, according to an Office of Municipal Investigations report.

Coincidentally, that same repair company has a city contract to board up abandoned buildings. The city report cleared Taylor of accusations that he used his influence to help his father get that city contract.

Buildings and Inspections Director William V. Langevin said he asked for the investigation after a neighbor of the Erie Avenue house complained of a conflict of interest.

Ocwen Federal Bank, of Florida, hired Georgia-based National Foreclosure Services to manage the house, which had been condemned by a different building inspector. The bank was able to keep the building from being torn down by posting a $6,000 bond, and an NFS employee called Al Taylor to schedule an inspection.

Taylor said the inspector would need access to the building, and suggested Ron Taylor because he did barricade work for the city.

The NFS employee told city investigators Frank Sefton and Mark Gissiner she thought it was "strange" that Taylor provided only one name, but trusted Taylor because he was a city official and she was on a tight schedule.

In fact, she said, she was happy with the work performed and would hire Ron Taylor again.

Langevin said Taylor would be transferred out of the Hazard Abatement Program, where he would be less likely to cross paths with his father's work, and could face a written reprimand. But Langevin said any harsher discipline would be difficult because the city has no formal written policy on such conflicts of interest.


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