Pickerington Times-Sun

City alleges porn found on computer of fired employee

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A Pickerington administrator fired last week for inappropriate use of his city computer viewed explicit images while at work, according to city documents.

According to his personnel file, former Pickerington building inspector administrator Paul Lane was terminated from his job Nov. 2 because pornography was found on his work computer.

The termination memo from Pickerington police chief and interim city manager Mike Taylor stated Lane was dismissed because of "prohibited use of the Internet and viewing and retaining of pornographic materials on a city computer," as well as "misuse of city property in an inappropriate and offensive manner."

The file includes a document that said Lane admitted during an Oct. 30 disciplinary hearing to looking at pornography on a city computer. However, the document states Lane said "he wasn't aware (the material) was pornography, as he was checking his home e-mail from work."

"This occurred approximately 30 times," a memo from Taylor stated.

Following his firing on Nov. 2, Lane declined comment. A call to his home on Friday, Nov. 6, wasn't returned.

Taylor declined to elaborate on the alleged material but disagreed with Lane's assertions.

"Clearly, it was pornography," Taylor said.

Lane, who was the head of Pickerington's Building Department at the time of his dismissal, is the second city administrator to be fired in the past month. Former city manager Tim Hansley's last day on the job was Oct. 21, after he was fired on Oct. 20.

At the time, Mayor Mitch O'Brien and council members who voted in favor of Hansley's dismissal cited "philosophical differences" as reasons for the action.

Councilman Mike Sabatino said Hansley and the city code enforcement staff weren't accountable to residents' complaints about potential code violations. Sabatino also said Hansley wasn't cooperative when asked to have code enforcement staff members appear for questions from council's safety committee.

Hansley said Sabatino and O'Brien misinterpreted city code enforcement codes. He said he was fired, in part, because his detractors wanted "somebody they can dictate the day-to-day actions to, especially the hiring and firing of staff,"

The city is required to pay Hansley approximately $58,000, or a lump sum equal to three months compensation, including his base salary and retirement contributions, as well as for all earned sick leave, vacation and other benefits.

Lane was not given a severance.

Taylor said it hasn't been determined if Lane's position will be filled, but he won't be subject to criminal charges.

He said the material on Lane's computer was found after a review of several city computers.

"It was rumored that numerous people were deleting files off computers," Taylor said. "I checked several, and although nothing was found deleted (from Lane's computer), there was inappropriate material."

Lane was hired by the city on Aug. 30, 1999. His salary was $63,068 at the time of his termination.

Throughout his tenure with Pickerington, Lane was lauded in employee performance evaluations for his helpfulness and ability to work with others.

He received congratulations from Hansley and former city manager Judith Gilleland for using less than 16 hours of sick leave during a 12-month period on several occasions.

He also was awarded eight hours personal time for his contributions to a renovation project at 51 E. Columbus St. in 2003, and received a $750 bonus for a "job well done" in December 2004.

According to the city's Web site, the department Lane oversaw is responsible for building and construction plan inspection. Department employees also answer questions, meet with property owners to help them understand the requirements of the building code, review plans, issue permits and inspect structures to ensure they are safe for human occupancy.


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