COLUMBUS — A former Ohio Department of Transportation employee improperly routed a $195,000 no-bid contract to benefit a state contractor with whom he "worked closely," according to a report Tuesday by the office of state Inspector General Randall J. Meyer.
Shawn Shelstad, who quit last year as a $110,800-a-year information technology manager at ODOT, won superiors' approval of a no-bid contract in 2016 with Demitra Burkhart by falsely portraying it as a contract extension with her company, Data Systems Integration Group Inc., Meyer's investigation found.
Shelstad, who previously hired Burkhart when he worked at the Department of Mental Health, also had separately hired her as a $72-an-hour business analyst after he transferred to ODOT, the report said.
Burkhart's minority-business enterprise company also received a $19,500 profit for delivering no work and simply acting as a pass-through vendor for the contract, the report said.
The investigation also found that Burkhart improperly used state resources, such as her ODOT email account, to work on her private consulting business.
ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning said the agency is reviewing the report, in which Meyer recommended that ODOT provide additional training to employees on purchasing policies.
Burkhart was at the center of a 2017 inspector general report that found Unity Resource Solutions, a Gahanna company, improperly received $1.2 million in state money by falsely claiming it was a minority-owned business after losing its state certification.
The company, which provided supplemental information-technology workers, was paid from the fall of 2014 through the end of 2015 despite its minority certification being revoked after only 11 days amid an ethics scandal.
A mid-2014 investigation by Meyer’s office established that Unity, owned by Eron Colson, was improperly certified as a minority business enterprise at the direction of her husband, Harry Colson, who then was interim equal opportunity coordinator for the Department of Administrative Services. He quickly resigned after being accused of ethics violations in Meyer’s report.
Meyer's 2017 report found that Unity received ongoing work as a minority vendor despite knowing its certification had been revoked and serving as a “pass-through” company to route money to a non-minority company, AIN Systems, of Blacklick, which was owned by Burkhart.
Unity and Eron Colson transferred $1.04 million to Burkhart's AIN Systems, which the inspector general’s investigators determined controlled the operation and finances of Unity and used it to improperly receive minority set-aside dollars. Burkhart since has been disbarred as a state contractor.