The Ohio Ethics Commission has reprimanded the former executive director of the Akron Metro Regional Transit Authority and a former longtime board member for ethics violations.
Richard Enty, who headed the bus company from 2012 until he was fired in 2018, and Saundra Foster, who resigned from the board in November 2017 following a Beacon Journal/Ohio.com investigation, were reprimanded in lieu of potential prosecution, according to settlement agreements with the commission.
The agreements, released publicly Friday, were reached in May. In both documents, Enty and Foster admitted to violating state ethics laws regarding conflict of interest. Enty signed the settlement in May, while Foster signed hers in July.
The state Ethics Commission began investigating after receiving a complaint in 2017.
"We’ve already put the issue to rest as an organization and we're looking forward now," Metro RTA board President Robert DeJournett said Friday.
In Enty's case, he approached the bus company's marketing director in his official capacity and vouched for his daughter who was applying for a communications position. Despite a legal opinion saying his family members couldn't be hired, he told the director of human resources to interview her and requested a second opinion.
After the second opinion reached the same conclusion, his daughter was no longer a candidate.
Meanwhile, Foster, who began serving on the board in 1991 and was personal friends with Enty, asked Enty to provide free Metro transportation for herself and her family for personal travel to the Cleveland airport in July 2016. Enty also gave $551 to Foster for vehicle repairs and bought her a $297 remote car starter.
At the same time, she was helping negotiate a three-year contract for Enty.
The Ethics Commission, which declined to comment on the settlements, noted in Foster's agreement that "Metro had a long-term practice of transporting board members" and "there was no evidence that Foster misused her position on the Metro board to benefit Enty."
"I never intentionally did anything wrong," Foster said Friday.
The agreements also state that Foster and Enty cooperated with the investigation.
Enty had a rocky ending tenure at Metro RTA, including being placed on administrative leave several times. He wrote a lengthy letter in April 2017 to employees saying Metro was under attack by "untrained, clueless people." Other incidents included him making employees watch a Tom Cruise movie while at work, putting a Metro decal on the side of his personal Porsche and directing staff not to wear "thongs/whale tails" to a meeting.
He was fired in January 2018. In October 2018, the board agreed to pay him $200,000 to settle a dispute over his firing.
"Mr. Enty is barred by the settlement agreement from commenting on the facts underlying the charges," Enty's attorney Peter Pattakos said. "It is, however, important to note that the entire investigation would have never happened if not for a report by politically motivated individuals at Metro who wanted Mr. Enty removed from his position as executive director and who were ultimately responsible for Metro having to pay Mr. Enty a $200,000 settlement to keep him from filing a lawsuit for wrongful termination."
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.