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GovWatch: Speeding cameras, state parks hijinx and federal fraud

Some claim Dayton’s speeding cameras are unconstitutional. Others simply decry them as unfair. But the most important question some ask is: Are they accurate?

In response to a reader request, the I-Team used Ohio’s open records laws to obtain more than a year’s worth of calibration records for the 10 cameras that nab speeders throughout the city. The most recent calibration was April 8.

To calibrate, the city sends out a police officer licensed with a manual radar and measures the speeds of cars alongside the camera. Each camera is tested at least 10 times. This is done quarterly.

What we found: They are mostly accurate. Of the more than 200 tests conducted in April, 117 were off by no more than 1 mile per hour.

The cameras are also lenient. There were 31 times out of the more than 1,000 tests through the beginning of 2012 that showed a difference of 2 mph, and all but three had the cop with the higher speed. The same was true 60 percent of the time when the difference was 1 mph in the April test.

There were no readings back at least through 2012 with a difference of more than 2 mph.

The I-Team also asked for, and the city provided, certification proving the officers who operated the manual laser are certified in its use.

State parks employee stayed free at lodges

A supervisor at Punderson State Park in Geauga County for years accepted free lodging at a privately run lodge at the park, according to a report last week from the Ohio Inspector General.

The report said Eugene Shrum accepted complementary lodging at the park from 2009 through 2012. He then contacted an employee of the company that runs the lodge and had the name on some of the reservations changed after a parks employee got in trouble for doing the same thing at Hueston Woods State Park in Butler County.

The 10 reservations discovered by state investigators had a potential value of $1,197, the report says.

Shrum told state investigators his ex-wife was an employee of the company that ran the lodge and was entitled to free rooms, though the company’s policy did not align with this claim and he continued to get free rooms after she left the company.

Shrum said he told company officials he wanted to pay for the rooms after the park officer in Butler County got in trouble. But he never did.

The inspector general’s report was handed over to the Geauga County Prosecutor’s Office for review.

8th person pleads in $30M NASA contract fraud

An eighth person pleaded guilty last week to his role in a $30 million fraud and bribery scheme that duped NASA into awarding contracts to companies that falsely claimed eligibility for preferences granted to minority-owned businesses.

Michael Dunkel, 59, of Merritt Island, Fla., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., to fraud for illegally receiving more than $4.4 million in government payments. Dunkel falsely claimed he was an employee of an Arlington-based company that received contract preferences through a Small Business Administration program.

In reality, Dunkel simply paid a kickback to the Arlington company so it would pass the work through to him.

As it turned out, the Arlington company, Security Assistance Corp., was not even eligible for the SBA preferences. The company’s figurehead CEO, Dawn Hamilton, pleaded guilty in March to $30 million in contract fraud, admitting that she was awarded NASA security contracts under the SBA program even though her company was truly controlled by another man, Keith Hedman, who was not eligible for the SBA preferences.

Woman accused of defrauding Army

A 70-year-old suburban Kansas City woman faces federal charges accusing her of selling the U.S. Army nearly $3 million worth of bogus computer equipment.

Virgie Dillard, of Lee’s Summit, Mo., is accused of providing counterfeit, used or modified computer products to an Army program through her Kansas City-based company, Missouri Office System and Supplies.

The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri said in a release that Dillard’s employee, Roland Evans, also of Lee’s Summit, and Mark Morgan of Newport Coast, Calif., were also charged in the 12-count indictment. They’re accused of selling the Army about $2.8 million in counterfeit or modified computer products in 2009 and 2010.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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