A former Erie County Health Department inspector could face up to two years in jail, after admitting he filed false inspection reports for numerous restaurants he was scheduled to check. Timothy Bean pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to 14 misdemeanor counts of official misconduct.
Bean, by entering his guilty plea, admits he made up reports for establishments he was supposed to inspect over a two-month period.
His attorney, Terrence Connors, says Bean was working through some serious personal problems at the time he was making up false inspection reports. When those records were found to be in question, he says, Bean admitted his wrongdoing to his superiors.
"When he was involved in filing of the documents that weren't accurate, even though he had all of these excuses he didn't fall upon the excuses but served them up as an explanation and he accepted responsibility," Connors said.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn says Bean's personal matters, including the deaths of two people close to him within a year's time, a near-death of a close family member and a health scare of his own, were considered when his office pursued misdemeanor charges.
"He apparently would drive up to a restaurant in his car, planning on doing the inspection. He would sit in his car and he would have a mental breakdown in the car," Flynn said. "He would not be able to get out of the car and go in the restaurant and do his job. Then he made up that he went in and did it."
The district attorney says he prosecutes three kinds of defendants: truly bad people, good people who make stupid decisions and people whose behavior is influenced by an intoxication or an addiction.
Bean, Flynn suggests, falls into the second class of defendants.
"He did a very dumb thing here that could have caused someone to get sick," Flynn said. "Fortunately, no one did get sick. That weighed into (my decision) too."
Sentencing is scheduled for August 22. Flynn says he is still considering whether to ask the judge for jail time. Bean could face up to two years behind bars. That, however, is not expected.
"The judge said today that the maximum would be two years in prison but he will look very carefully at the background, the mitigation that's offered, the circumstances that were occurring in Tim's life and consider probation as an appropriate sentence," Connors said.