The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

May 28, 2013

State: Repak’s firing was justified

JOHNSTOWN — Ron Repak’s acceptance of nearly $134,000 in outside consulting fees represented “willful misconduct,” justifying the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority’s decision to fire him as executive director, a state hearing referee has ruled.

Authority leaders officially fired Repak on Feb. 25 on the grounds that he accepted $133,507.90 from Conemaugh Health System between April 2004 and June 2007 while working on development of the former Greater Johnstown Technology Park, now Conemaugh Medical Park.

Additional consulting work involved a Conemaugh-led renewal project in the 8th Ward.

The Conemaugh money was paid through a consulting business called Diversified Development Technologies, which is part of Pittsburgh-based K.U. Resources Inc.

But the tech park development also was a primary focus of Repak’s job with the redevelopment authority. His contract specifically limited outside work to projects beyond Cambria and surrounding counties and banned any outside work on Johnstown Redevelopment Authority projects.

After he was fired, Repak filed for unemployment compensation. His claim was initially approved in March, but the redevelopment authority filed an appeal on April 8, arguing that Repak was fired for cause. The hearing referee ruled in favor of the authority.

“The claimant (Repak) knew or should have known that he was prohibited from engaging in outside work which constitutes a conflict of interest or gives the appearance of a conflict of interest,” referee Amy M. Yokitis wrote in her decision for the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review hearing.

The decision’s accompanying documents confirm that Repak’s misconduct may extend beyond his employment contract. The authority was informed in 2010 that the FBI and the state attorney general were investigating “transactions” involving Repak, the papers say.

Instead of immediately firing him, the authority “made significant steps to constructively separate (Repak) from his duties,” the documents continue. The authority kept Repak as executive director, in name only, “in the hopes that the FBI and attorney general investigations would be concluded and that the (authority) could take action based on said investigation.”

About the time Repak was fired in February, the authority “was informed that the FBI and attorney general continued to investigate ... and that a grand jury is currently convened,” Yokitis wrote.

Repak has 15 days to appeal the referee’s decision to the Unemployment Compensation Board.

Meanwhile, another hearing on virtually the same issue has been delayed, the authority’s solicitor said Tuesday. Repak is asking the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority to pay for unused sick days as required under his contract for “normal separation,” Solicitor William G. Barbin said Tuesday.

“(The authority) specifically passed the motion that he was fired for cause,” Barbin said.

A hearing will be held before Calvin Webb II, an Ebensburg lawyer appointed by the authority as hearing officer.

Heath M. Long, another Ebensburg lawyer, will represent the authority at the hearing. Webb and Long each will receive $175 an hour.

A new hearing date has not been set, Barbin said.

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