Criminal ghost employee? Pa. auditor general thinks so

     A Pennsylvania state audit released this month found that Ron Tomalis, former secretary of education,  was reporting to  work as a special adviser most of the time, but not producing much to show for it. (AP file photo)

    A Pennsylvania state audit released this month found that Ron Tomalis, former secretary of education, was reporting to work as a special adviser most of the time, but not producing much to show for it. (AP file photo)

    Pennsylvania’s top whistle-blower on fiscal mischief says the findings of a recent audit could leave a former Corbett aide vulnerable to a criminal charge.

    Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, a Democrat, said Friday that authorities could “easily” argue that Ron Tomalis perpetrated a “theft of public services” as a special assistant to former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

    A state audit released this month found Tomalis was reporting to work most of the time, but not producing much to show for it.

    WITF’s Smart Talk host Scott LaMar asked DePasquale if the scant work product could give rise to criminal charges.

    “That’s up to law enforcement to determine that,” said DePasquale. “Seventy-two percent of the time showing up for work, and no evidence that you did anything?”

    But at least one former federal prosecutor thinks such a case would be a long shot.

    “A no-show public officer is hardly a unique animal in the commonwealth,” said George Parry, now in private practice as a defense lawyer. “The issue would be, well, what was this person required to do?”

    “I’d be surprised if there was anything like an employment contract, or any set of rules or regulations governing exactly what he was supposed to be doing at any given time,” Parry said.

    Efforts to reach Tomalis were not immediately successful.

    He was appointed by Corbett to serve as state education secretary. Tomalis stepped down in 2013, only to stay on with the administration in a newly created position as special adviser on higher education. He kept the same annual salary of nearly $140,000.

    Tomalis resigned from the special role in 2014, months after a report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette finding little evidence he was working.

    DePasquale vowed to expand an ongoing audit of the state Department of Education to include an investigation into Tomalis’ work record.

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