RTA gives six-figure payout to official it planned to fire in connection with health-care scam

August 28, 2018

RTA gives six-figure payout to official it planned to fire in connection with health-care scam

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A trustee of the Regional Transit Authority accuses General Manager Joe Calabrese of failing to tell the board that he authorized a six-figure payout for an official that RTA investigators had accused of contributing to a scam that cost the agency hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Board member Karen Moss complained in an email to board members that she was left to learn from a report last week by Cleveland Channel 8 News that Bruce Hampton Sr., former RTA human resources chief, will receive more than $125,000.

“Basically, Joe and [the RTA legal department] settled with Bruce Hampton on July 25 and forgot to tell us,” Moss scoffed in the email obtained by cleveland.com. “Isn’t this exactly the type of issue we asked to know about? We specifically told Joe we did not want to hear about what was going on at RTA in the news.”

Hampton, who resigned in July after he was suspended without pay, will receive the payout in exchange for not suing the transit authority. The settlement agreement, which includes payments for unused vacation and sick time, was first reported by Channel 8 News.

RTA investigators accused Hampton of helping RTA’s then president, George Dixon III, access RTA health-care insurance without paying for it.

Calabrese said through a spokeswoman that he was within his rights as head of RTA to make the deal with Hampton.

Cleveland.com asked Calabrese why he offered Hampton a settlement after moving to fire him for what investigators said was his role in helping Dixon cheat RTA. Cleveland.com will update this post when Calabrese responds.

Moss said in her email to board members that Calabrese had earlier pledged to keep the board apprised of issues related to the investigation and to major legal matters.

Moss complained that board members get emails from Calabrese about routine events “but not something as significant as this settlement.”  

“If you cannot tell, I am outraged,” she wrote.   

RTA Board Chairman Dennis Clough could not be reached Tuesday for comment. 

Update hourly