I-Team: Employee works on personal jobs on town's time
TIVERTON, R.I. —
Robert Martin owns at least eight houses and has a lot of responsibilities keeping his properties in tip-top shape.
He's a busy guy. The only problem, he has a day job as the maintenance foreman for the town of Tiverton. He makes about $50,000 a year, and he's the local union president for AFSCME Council 94.
The NBC 10 I-Team watched Martin for the past two months on 10 random days of the week. During his normal workday hours, the I-Team witnessed him working on his personal apartments 60 percent of the time.
Records obtained from Town Hall show Martin was on the clock every time the I-Team was watching. He was not out sick, on vacation or using personal or comp time.
Martin spent 40 minutes inside his rental house on Chace Avenue in the middle of a Thursday afternoon.
The I-Team spotted him at the same house, but on different day. For two hours, Martin appeared to be digging for tools and putting in some sweat equity on town time.
One building needed a new set of stairs. NBC 10's cameras caught the remodel during the work day on a Wednesday at Clement Street over the state line in Fall River.
Gavigan: "If I'm paying a tax bill here in town, is this what I deserve?"
Martin: "Oh absolutely. You're getting more than your money's worth with me."
Gavigan: "I'm getting more than my money's worth for you?"
Martin: "Oh absolutely."
After working for 45 minutes at one of his rental houses, NBC 10 followed Martin as he drove to a local hardware store.
Lumber went in the back of his truck, which Martin leases to the town for $55 a week plus gas and maintenance. The truck though was not on official town business and returned to the same rental house.
Martin's assistant, another town employee, unloaded the wood as his boss supervised. More than an hour of town time ticks away at 10:30 in the morning.
Gavigan: "What about using a town employee to do work on your properties on town time?"
Martin: "No, no."
Gavigan: "It's never happened?
"He's full of crap," said Larry Faulkner, who was the assistant hauling the lumber. "Back and forth to the dump; a lot of dump runs, emptying the apartments, done some wiring in the apartments."
Faulkner claimed the work was done on town time.
NBC 10 caught the town trailer loaded up with mattresses, chairs, and junk behind the town's Community Center. Pictures Faulkner gave to NBC 10 appear to show the same town trailer hooked up to Martin's truck.
Faulkner said the trailer went to the town dump at the start of the workday.
"I was questioning him saying, 'What's going to happen to me if I get caught?' I then got a big threat, stating that if I opened my mouth up to anybody I would be ruined in this town and not have a job again," Faulkner said.
And it seems that's what happened.
Faulkner was upset and went to Town Administrator James Goncalo. He showed him pictures of what he had been doing for his boss. A day later, Faulkner was fired.
The reasons were spelled out in a termination letter from Goncalo and obtained by the I-Team.
Goncalo wrote "there has been excessive use of personal time during working hours" related to talking on a cell phone in addition to leaving materials at a job site.
Gavigan: "Do you feel like the wrong decision was made here? I mean here you are, you're essentially blowing the whistle on wrong doing and you were fired because of it."
Faulkner: "Yup and I was fired. It's totally wrong."
NBC 10 showed its surveillance video to Goncalo.
Gavigan: "You're surprised?"
Gavigan: "Isn't this the worst kept secret in town though?"
What did Goncalo know and what will he now do with evidence presented to him? That part of NBC 10's I-Team investigation will air Friday at 6 p.m.
NBC 10 has learned the Rhode Island State Police is investigating whether any crimes were committed.