PRISON PAYS? City investigates allegation that sex offender was on payroll while in prison

The Department of Public Works is now investigating allegations an employee jailed for sexually abusing a minor remained on the city payroll while serving out his sentence, city officials confirmed Friday.

The employee, Dennis McLaughlin, also worked in city neighborhoods as a water maintenance worker, tasked with occasionally entering private residences to investigate water leaks after his release from prison — even though he was listed on the state’s sex offender registry.

City officials said Friday that they did not know the 10-year employee was on the Maryland Sex Offender Registry, or even that he had served nearly a year in prison for sexually abusing a minor.

McLaughlin, 37,  was arrested for allegedly impersonating a police officer while sexually assaulting a Baltimore County woman on Tuesday. Charged with impersonating a police officer, false imprisonment, and sexual assault, McLaughlin is now being held without bail at the Baltimore County Detention center.

However, city officials said they still are not sure how McLaughlin managed to stay on the city payroll while in jail, or how much money he was paid while serving out his sentence.

“It seems like we have a problem,” Department of Public Works Director David Scott said in a phone interview Friday.

“It appears he used leave,” he said. “We are investigating.”

“We will have answers soon.”

In 2007 McLaughlin pleaded guilty to first-degree sex offense for sexually abusing a minor under the age of 15.  He was sentenced in June 2007 to 16 months in prison. But the state releasied McLaughlin on May 3, 2008 — eight months early, according to the Maryland Department of Corrections.

Payroll records obtained by Investigative Voice and Fox 45 show McLaughlin earning $25,000 of his $32,000 annual salary in 2008, along with $4,500 in overtime.

City employees earn vacation leave, compensatory time, personal leave and sick leave. However, city officials said they did not know if jailed employees were eligible to use vacation or other leave time while incarcerated.

A source inside the Department of Public Works said McLaughlin was on sick leave during his jail stay.

City employees who are convicted of serious crimes generally are subject to termination hearings.

Privately city officials said it was not clear if there was a specific policy in place to screen sex offenders from jobs in the DPW that involve working with the public.

“I don’t think he should have been doing any field work if he was a registered sex offender,” said City Councilman Bernard “Jack” Young.


Published in: on January 16, 2010 at 8:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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