State investigator loses job over misuse of car

Douglas Edwards of Springfield resigned as head of the State Medical Board’s investigative unit this month after Ohio’s inspector general found that Edwards misused his state-issued vehicle.

The inspector general reports Edwards couldn’t account for more than 3,000 miles on the vehicle from October 2011 through September 2012, and that he routinely gassed up the car using his state-issued fuel card at a gas station near his home on his days off or on days he had no work-related travel scheduled.

Based on IRS rates, 3,000 miles has a value of $1,695; put another way, it’s enough miles to drive from the Atlantic coast in New York to the Pacific coast in California.

The inspector general handed over the report to the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office to consider charges. The prosecutor’s office said Tuesday that the case is under review.

Edwards worked for the State Medical Board since 1989. He resigned making $43.29 per hour. He was in charge of a 21-person office that investigates complaints against people holding state medical licenses.

The inspector general’s investigation started in October with an anonymous tip and concluded May 23. It found the mileage discrepancy by comparing Edwards’ daily log with the odometer readings he was required to enter when using his state-issued fuel credit card.

“Pretty clearly it’s a case of records just not adding up,” said Deputy Inspector General Carl Enslen. “It’s curious as to how he believed that was going to be sustainable unless he believed nobody was going to look.”

Edwards could not be reached for comment. He told investigators with the inspector general’s office that he sometimes used his state-issued vehicle for personal reasons due to financial difficulties he was experiencing, but he couldn’t account for all of the miles.

He said he sometimes took the car to the store “right around the corner” from his house on his commute home “maybe once, twice a month at the most.”

Edwards also told investigators that driving was a stress-reliever for him, so occasionally he would take “back roads or the long route” on his way to or from Columbus.

“That probably adds an extra 30-to-50 miles one way to my total,” the report quotes him as saying.

In one 10-day period in December 2011, Edwards only worked one day and logged that he drove 102 miles that day. But when he used his state-issued fuel card the odometer reading showed he drove 272 miles that same time period.

Edwards was one of 10 people at the state agency — which has a total 79 employees — who has a state-issued car. Investigators have “cover” license plates that look like plates issued to the general public instead of government license plates.

The inspector general’s report recommends that the agency create policies to increase oversight of state-issued vehicles.

“The Medical Board takes the findings of the Inspector General very seriously,” said Medical Board spokeswoman Joan Wehrle. “The Medical Board will be reviewing the actions of other board employees assigned state-issued vehicles as recommended by the Inspector General.”

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