Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post - Athens, OH
The independent newspaper covering campus and community since 1911.
The Post

The exterior of 31 Coventry Lane, where former Ohio University President Roderick McDavis and his wife, Deborah, lived after bats were discovered in the traditional presidential residence at 29 Park Place on OU's campus. (FILE)

End may be in sight for Ohio Inspector General investigation of Ohio University

A state investigation of Ohio University appears to be coming to a close.

The university has “fully responded” to requests for documents and emails from the the Ohio Inspector General’s Office, OU Legal Counsel John Biancamano said in a Dec. 19 email to Deputy Inspector General Rebekeh Wolcott.

As part of the inquiry, which began nearly three years ago in April 2015, OU facilitated interviews of 25 current and former university employees and provided “thousands” of pages of documents and emails to the state watchdog agency, Biancamano said in the email, provided to The Post via a public records request.

The investigation centers around the university’s actions before and after entering a lease agreement for a new presidential residence at 31 Coventry Lane in March 2015. That lease ended last June, according to a previous Post report.

Wolcott indicated that the Inspector General’s Office will release a report on the investigation. In a Nov. 30 email to Biancamano, she identified documents to be excluded from “our report” due to being legally protected or containing sensitive information. The office issues such reports at the end of investigations, according to its 2016 annual report.

“The report may include recommendations for the agency to consider in addressing and avoiding the recurrence of fraud, waste, abuse or corruption uncovered by the investigation,” the annual report reads.

In the Dec. 19 email, Biancamano summarized OU’s views on the investigation. He said OU was consistent with state law and its own real estate practices in “negotiating and executing” the house’s lease agreement. He also said the university’s payments for landscaping and maintenance on the home were appropriate.

The investigation uncovered some payments for house maintenance costs that weren’t required by the lease, according to the email. Biancamano said that occurred due to processes that caused inadequate communication among administrators.

“These processes have been remedied, and we continue to explore opportunities for improvement,” he said in the email. “However, the evidence suggests that any deficiencies were in the administrative process and were not attributable to individual recklessness or gross negligence.”

Biancamano also said the university believes its payment of property taxes was appropriate and consistent with the lease agreement. OU paid more than $31,000 in property taxes for the house, according to the email.

In addition, the email referenced the Inspector General’s jurisdiction via the Ohio Revised Code, which grants the office the authority to determine if “wrongful acts and omissions” have been committed by state employees.

“In my view, the evidence suggests no basis to find a wrongful act or omission in the administration of the 31 Coventry lease,” Biancamano said in the email.

Email records also show the investigation’s progress toward the end of last year. OU provided the Inspector General’s Office with several sets of records from a Sept. 25 request, including documentation of security expenses at the house and real estate transactions.

The office arranged an interview with Donna Goss, former director of Real Estate Development at OU, on Nov. 3, according to an Oct. 12 email from Wolcott. Previously, the office interviewed a former OU Board of Trustees chair and former OU President Roderick McDavis and his wife.


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2024 The Post, Athens OH