An assistant supervisor at the Division of Motor Vehicles faces discipline after an investigation found that he conducted side business with companies he regulates for the state.
The supervisor might have been in a position to overlook violations in the interest of retaining income from the business relationships, said a report released Thursday by State Auditor Beth Wood’s office.
The audit report does not identify the supervisor, and DMV has declined to release details.
The employee’s actions came under scrutiny after a tipster’s call to the state auditor’s office about a potential conflict of interest.
“At this time, disciplinary action in this case has been initiated but is not complete,” said DMV spokeswoman Marge Howell. She said details may be available next week. The report notes that the supervisor had involvement with the Southern Pines Fire and Rescue Department.
According to the report, the supervisor, noted as a law enforcement officer, hadn’t disclosed that he sold fire extinguishers to auto dealerships over which he had regulatory oversight. That oversight included enforcement of motor vehicle laws, safety and emission inspections, special investigations, auditing and licensing, the report said.
When officials visited these dealerships, they found fire extinguishers bearing the supervisor’s name and invoices from the extinguisher business that included “handwritten thank-you notes” bearing his signature. They also met with dealership managers who acknowledged the business, and one dealership employee who said the DMV supervisor performed fire extinguisher work during standard office hours, the report said.
It clarified that the fire extinguisher business was registered to the supervisor’s wife, and that the supervisor told investigators he didn’t feel the need to disclose that business tie to the state.
But the report added that he and his wife reported the related income on their joint personal income tax returns and shared access to the business’ bank account.
In addition to scenarios where the supervisor might be inclined to overlook violations, dealerships “may feel pressured to select (that supervisor’s) fire extinguisher business,” said the report.
Wood’s office considers these actions as potential grounds for dismissal, and recommends the DMV pursue reimbursement from the supervisor for any illegitimate use of state time.
Department of Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson thanked Wood for the report in a response letter and told her “appropriate action will be taken.”