Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

An ex-county public works employee is under scrutiny for possible job conflicts

BROOKSVILLE — A former county public works employee is the target of a criminal investigation concerning his ties to private contractors.

Bill Busch served as the county's pavement management coordinator while also working for KMS and Associates Inc., a consulting firm paid to run Hernando County's road management system, according to interviews with county officials and documents obtained by the St. Petersburg Times.

The arrangement is a clear violation of county policies, officials acknowledged. The Hernando County Sheriff's Office is also exploring the possibility that Busch committed fraud by attempting to steer county contracts to favored clients.

Assistant State Attorney Mark Simpson confirmed the six-month investigation but would not comment on the specific allegations.

"We are looking at a potential employee conflict issue," said Simpson, a lead prosecutor in the public integrity division of the State Attorney's Office.

Simpson said he is still reviewing the investigation and will make a decision on whether to file charges in the near future. Busch did not return repeated phone calls for comment on Wednesday.

The investigation involves the county's pavement management program, which monitors and upgrades the county's 800-mile residential and collector road network.

In his position at the Department of Public Works, Busch wrote project bids, worked with various contractors and handled $4-million to $6-milllion a year in taxpayers' money.

Busch, 67, was hired as the county's pavement management coordinator in November 2000 coming from a similar job in Lakeland. On Jan. 4, he retired from that $64,126 per-year Hernando position.

But he returned to his old desk later in January as a contract employee hired through a leasing agency, Today's Office Professionals. He worked about eight to 10 hours a week as the pavement management coordinator. The leasing agency billed the county at $33.75 an hour.

Authorities began looking into Busch's background the first week in February after the county's purchasing office discovered his dual role during routine research for a potential bid.

A public works employee for the city of Margate in South Florida told a Hernando County purchasing agent on Feb. 7 that Busch met with him to pitch the services of KMS and Associates Inc., an Ohio company.

The purchasing agent then told her supervisor of the potential conflict. The supervisor then informed the county attorney's office, which brought in law enforcement.

According to the KMS Web site, copyrighted in 2007, the Florida office is run from Busch's home in Spring Hill and lists his name in an e-mail address contact.

Busch was intimately familiar with KMS from his years working with Hernando County. The company received more than $235,000 in county contracts, dating to 2002, that were partially written by Busch.

"There was an obvious conflict between Mr. Busch's private life and Mr. Busch's county life," said Jim Gantt, the county's purchasing director.

Gantt said Busch also raised red flags as a leading advocate for RePLAY, a new asphalt rejuvenation product he wanted to put on county roads.

Busch tailored at least three different county bids in 2007 and 2008 that gave preference to RePLAY, according to documents received through a public records request.

In one case, a competing product came in about $300,000 cheaper than the estimated $849,000 cost for RePLAY but Busch — backed by his supervisor, public works director Charles Mixson — supported the more expensive product.

In another instance, Busch advocated that Ohio Pavement Systems Inc., apply the RePLAY to county roads without a bidding process, county officials said. Ohio Pavement lists the same address in Dublin, Ohio, as KMS and Associates and is controlled by the same family.

The tailored bids prompted protests to the county from a competing company, Pavement Technology Inc. In a letter dated Jan. 8 the company threatened to file a lawsuit and called the Busch-written bid "unsubstantiated favoritism."

Busch stopped working part-time for the county July 9, a few days after the Hernando County Sheriff's Office confiscated his work computer and laptop computer.

John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6114. Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptime.com or (352) 848-1434.

An ex-county public works employee is under scrutiny for possible job conflicts 08/20/08 [Last modified: Saturday, August 23, 2008 11:20am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.
  2. CIA chief: Intel leaks on the rise amid 'worship' of leakers

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — CIA director Mike Pompeo says he thinks disclosure of America's secret intelligence is on the rise, fueled partly by the "worship" of leakers like Edward Snowden.

    CIA director Mike Pompeo said the U.S. must redouble its efforts to stop information from leaking.
  3. ABC Racing kennel advances three into semifinals

    Parimutuels

    ST. PETERSBURG — The maiden voyage by Don Burk into the $30,000 St. Petersburg Derby series — his first as the ABC Racing kennel owner — went as easy as ABC.

  4. Why Grenfell tower burned: Regulators put cost before safety

    World

    The doorbell woke Yassin Adam just before 1 a.m. A neighbor was frantically alerting others on the fourth floor of Grenfell Tower about a fire in his apartment. "My fridge blew up," the man shouted.

    At least 79 people were killed in the fire at the Grenfell Tower apartment building in London, and the toll is expected to rise.
  5. Bullpen melts down as Rays lose to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jacob Faria allowed his first two big-league home runs and was touched for a career-high three runs Saturday by the Orioles. Other than that, the rookie making his fourth major-league start did okay against the Baltimore bats.

    The bullpen, not so much.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Baltimore Orioles scored four runs during the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 24, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) SPD118