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Investigation of reporting fraudulent hours in Physical Plant unit

(Collegian File Photo)

As a result of an ongoing investigation into the Environmental Services unit of the University of Massachusetts’ Physical Plant, the University terminated six employees and temporarily suspended three, according to a news release from UMass News and Media Relations Executive Director Ed Blaguszewski.

The investigation began in 2015, prompted by allegations of workplace misconduct, specifically the misreporting of time and misuse of campus resources.

An estimated $77,000 has been lost due to fraudulent time reporting, according to the release.

The Physical Plant’s annual budget is $42 million and has around 600 employees, according to the release.

Regarding the Physical Plant’s duties, their website states, “The Physical Plant is responsible for the custodial, grounds, utilities, and building maintenance for nearly 6 million square feet of administrative, academic, and recreational space at our Amherst campus.”

“Significant allegations were brought to our attention, and we moved quickly to investigate and take action,” said Andrew Mangels, vice chancellor for administration and finance, via the release. “UMass is the steward of public dollars and we take that responsibility very seriously.”

“We looked at use of time and materials of that particular unit within Physical Plant and then the results of what we found were forwarded to the Attorney General’s office for them to review,” Blaguszewski said.

In February 2016 in connection with this investigation, $50,000 in misused resources was reported. At that time, five employees had received paid administrative leave and one resigned.

“When we first announced the investigation we said this was in the early stages and it was preliminary and we were beginning to investigate. So now the review is complete and you know, we have a fuller picture” said Blaguszewski.

This story will be updated as new information is released.

Hayley Johnson can be reached at hkjohnson@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @hayleyk_johnson.

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