Comptroller finds fraudulent practices in county division

Jun 6, 2014

Erie County's comptroller has released a report that he says uncovers possible fraud in the county's Division of Weights and Measures.

Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw says back in April, he began investigating allegations that department inspectors were improperly fining businesses based on inspections they never performed.

The inspections are meant to verify the accuracy of scales and the contents of consumer products.

Mychajliw says the probe began after a whistleblower came forward. Employees verified, under oath, that they did not perform the official tests. 

“The reason we were given is that it was just too hard. The work was too difficult to conduct. That was their excuse. But the Department of Commerce is crystal clear. You can't levy fines unless you actually conduct a very, very rigorous exam," Mychajliw said Friday.

The investigation also found that department workers performed repairs to a classic car, owned by division Director Edwin E. Gonsiorek, that was being stored in the department's garage. The restoration work was being done on county time.

"The director of the Division of Weights and Measures should not be using a county-owned public garage as his private storage facility. That is wrong and should not have taken place. It's also wrong for workers to have performed maintenance on this inoperable vehicle during the work day," Mychajliw added.

Employees were also discovered to be smoking cigarettes in the garage, which contains highly flammable materials.

Mychajliw is seeking disciplinary action against the director and has asked the state comptroller to review the findings.