State auditor, prosecutor investigate allegations about Morgan Township administrator/fire chief

State auditor, prosecutor investigate allegations about Morgan Township administrator/fire chief
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 3:05 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2022 at 3:17 PM EDT
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MORGAN TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WXIX) - Local and state authorities have all launched three separate investigations after a resident accused Morgan Township Administrator Jeff Galloway, who also serves as the fire chief, has committed “crimes” including double paid.

The Special Investigations Unit at the State Auditor’s Office is taking a close look at “issues related to Morgan Township,” FOX19 NOW has confirmed.

A spokesman for the auditor’s office had no further comment.

The Butler County Prosecutor’s office and Ohio Ethics Commission began investigating after resident Kevin Dye, showed up at the township’s Sept. 12 meeting and launched into a lengthy presentation.

“We were just presented with this information on Monday night,” Trustee Tom Brucker tells FOX19 NOW. “We were totally blindsided.”

Dye told the township Galloway, who earns about $93,000 annually, was paid his regular salary and also received pay the township was reimbursed by the state of Louisiana when Galloway was deployed by the Ohio Emergency Management Agency to help with Hurricane Ida in August 2021.

Dye gave the township documents including one with the signature of Penny Galloway on an invoice that went to the Emergency Management Assistance Compact for $22,309. Jeff Galloway’s wife’s first name is Penny and she works as a captain in the fire department.

FOX19 NOW obtained them through a public records request to the township.

The township paid Galloway’s salary up front, received the reimbursement last month and it was deposited into the fire fund, Brucker confirmed.

“You received a salary, you claimed that salary with a government agency you basically were paid twice,” Dye told Galloway.

Galloway received his regular bi-weekly paychecks for $2,557 for Sept. 5 through Sept. 18 and Sept. 19 through Oct. 2 as usual, and another direct deposit for $5,313 for hourly and overtime wages for the first pay period and $3,456 net for the second, according to records presented to the township by Dye that was released to FOX19 NOW by Brucker after we gave him a public records request.

Galloway was in Louisiana Sept. 10-24, 2021, and worked a total of 88 regular hours and 138 of overtime.

Dye issued a warning to the trustees when he addressed them: “Don’t violate the law in this township, that’s all I’ve got to say. Because there are too many people here that will fix that problem for you. Trust me.”

Galloway declined to comment when we reached him about the allegations.

FOX19 NOW also reached Dye for comment.

He responded: “Thank you for the message, but I can’t comment on an open criminal investigation by the State Auditors Office and the Ohio Ethics Commission.”

Galloway wasn’t the only township employee deployed to Hurricane Ida.

Firefighter Tony Shroyer was as well, but Shroyer’s time was properly reimbursed, Brucker said.

Galloway, on the other hand, took his paycheck, his salary and then turned in the time sheets for both straight and overtime when he was only eligible for overtime, Brucker confirmed.

The straight pay for those two pay periods is what’s in question, he said.

The township is still examining records to see if it was deliberate or an oversight, he told FOX19 NOW last week and again in another interview Monday.

Galloway told Dye at the meeting last week he took comp or vacation time.

Dye responded, according to the meeting video, “If you have to explain it to me, you can explain it to an investigator. It’s very clear what occurred here. You were paid twice for your salaried pay and you claimed it in writing to a government agency.”

Brucker confirms to FOX19 NOW the township has no documentation of Galloway taking comp or vacation time.

He stressed, however, that he is not saying it’s true and he’s not saying it isn’t true.

It’s still being reviewed, he said.

Morgan Township is one of 13 townships in Butler County with about 5,500 residents. It’s located in the southwestern corner of the county, on the state line with Dearborn County, Indiana.

Galloway was hired as an assistant administrator in 2015. In 2017, he also became the township’s administrator and fire chief.

At this point, Brucker said, the township is supporting Galloway.

However, that could change, he acknowledged, if any part of the allegations is proven to be true - and Brucker also acknowledged he is not happy at all to see Galloway’s wife’s signature on his invoice.

That should have been signed by the township’s fiscal clerk, not his wife, Brucker said.

All other invoices related to other deployments of Galloway were signed by the fiscal clerk, Brucker says the township’s review of their records has determined that Galloway was not double paid.

We have asked to review those records as well.

“If anything results out of the investigation negatively then, yes, we will definitely hold him accountable and he’ll have to deal with the consequences. I hope it doesn’t go there but that’s where we are at.”

The township hired an outside attorney last week at the advice of the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office to handle their legal counsel in this matter while the prosecutor’s office, which normally serves as their legal counsel, to avoid a conflict of interest, Brucker said.

Kelly Babcock is the direction/regional manager of a Dublin law firm, Clemans, Nelson & Associates, Inc, which has represented clients in employment actions before various agencies, including the State Employment Relations Board (SERB), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Ohio Civil Rights Commission, and the State Personnel Board of Review, as well as in federal and state courts in employment and civil rights actions, according to her law firm’s website.

Galloway did reach out to the Ohio Ethics Commission in December 2016 and self-reported that his wife is employed by the Morgan Township Fire Department.

When he was hired as the fire chief, the trustees passed a resolution so his wife would report directly to Assistant Chief Jeff Griffith and he did not participate in her employment matters.

Brucker said he routinely checks with Griffith to see if there’s been any issues with the arrangement and and he says there has not been a single one.

Galloway is the third public official in Butler County to be accused of wrongdoing in the past year and a half.

Madison Township Trustee Alan Daniel and Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds each face multiple public corruption charges.

Dye talked for several minutes at the township’s Sept. 12 meeting and raised other concerns including nepotism.

Brucker tells FOX19 NOW the township also then met privately with him toward the end of the meeting. When they came out, they adjourned two minutes later, the meeting minutes show.

That was not a previously announced or advertised executive session, Brucker acknowledges to FOX19 NOW.

Twenty-four-hour notice is required under law for elected officials to privately meet, or hold so-called “executive sessions.”

The Butler County Prosecutor’s Office provides legal counsel to Morgan Township, which doesn’t have a law director.

Brucker said the trustees held an emergency meeting the following day, on Tuesday, Sept. 13, less than 24 hours after the trustee meeting ended Monday night.

Brucker said they convened at 10 a.m. and then immediately went into executive session and called Mike Gmoser and Dan Ferguson with the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office.

“We needed legal counsel,” he said.

The executive session lasted most of the day, he said. They emerged from it and officially concluded the emergency meeting just before 5 p.m., he tells FOX19 NOW.

When we asked him for the legal exemption from the Ohio Meetings Act the township is claiming to for the emergency meeting less than 24 hours before it was announced as well as an executive session, he provided us with this:

“The Board had no prior knowledge of what Mr. Dye was going to talk about before the 9/12/22 meeting began at 7 p.m.

“The Board did have an Emergency Meeting on Tuesday 9/13/22 at 10 a.m. which was permitted under ORC chapter 121.22 Public Meetings- Exceptions Section (F).

“The Board did have an Emergency on Thursday 9/15/22 at 11 a.m. (in accordance with ORC chapter 121.22 (F) where the Board under the direction of the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office made a motion to retain legal council to represent the township on the Galloway accusation so the prosecutor office could investigate the accusation without a conflict of interest.”

The meeting on Thursday, Sept 15 is legal but the “emergency meeting” with executive session on Tuesday, Sept. 15 appears to violate the Sunshine Law and statute Brucker sent us which states:

“Every public body, by rule, shall establish a reasonable method whereby any person may determine the time and place of all regularly scheduled meetings and the time, place, and purpose of all special meetings. A public body shall not hold a special meeting unless it gives at least twenty-four hours’ advance notice to the news media that have requested notification, except in the event of an emergency requiring immediate official action. In the event of an emergency, the member or members calling the meeting shall notify the news media that have requested notification immediately of the time, place, and purpose of the meeting.

The rule shall provide that any person, upon request and payment of a reasonable fee, may obtain reasonable advance notification of all meetings at which any specific type of public business is to be discussed. Provisions for advance notification may include, but are not limited to, mailing the agenda of meetings to all subscribers on a mailing list or mailing notices in self-addressed, stamped envelopes provided by the person.”

When we asked Brucker what official action was taken after the trustees emerged from the executive session, he confirmed no vote was taken.

When we asked him to show us the legal advertisement they are required to give to the media 24 hours ahead of the meeting, he wrote in an email:

“The notification for the Emergency Meeting was posted on our webpage home page calendar.

We only found an emergency meeting notice for the board to meet from 10 a.m. to noon “To approve a resolution for road retracing and repavement.”

There was no mention at all of an executive session, including any related to a public employee.

Brucker told us Monday that was an oversight on his part and it was not deliberate.

He said trustees were holding another emergency meeting Tuesday to confer with Babcock about the Galloway situation.

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