I-TEAM: Tracking Down Execs in RTA Scandal

CLEVELAND-The FOX 8 I-TEAM is putting two RTA executives on the spot with hard questions for their first public comments about a scandal involving more than $1 million in healthcare benefits and much more.

RTA Board President George Dixon recently resigned under investigation accused of collecting the benefits improperly, not paying for health insurance and not paying big bills for personal use of an RTA cell phone. Tuesday, RTA also confirmed it suspended without pay, Deputy General Manager for Human Resources, Bruce Hampton.  And, a disciplinary letter from RTA shows the agency took the action against Hampton because of “his administration of George Dixon’s health insurance.”

The I-TEAM tracked down Dixon on Cleveland’s east side and asked him directly, ‘But did you take a million dollars worth of health care benefits and not pay for them?’ He answered, "Of course not, no." He added, "I'll just say this much, I paid on it every month."

We also wondered if he’ll pay back the money involved. Dixon responded, “I will do everything I can to make the situation right.”

Hampton could be fired. The I-TEAM found him at his home. He said, “I don’t have any comment at this time. Maybe later.” But when pressed about overseeing benefits and Dixon receiving all of those benefits for so long, Hampton answered, “I wasn’t involved in it until 2016.”

Meantime, there could be more fallout from the RTA investigation.  The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor is just beginning to decide if there should be criminal charges.

And the RTA Union President is hoping this leads to reform at the agency and better service for you on the streets. William Nix said, “Because right now, the public is very upset with the transit system. And we need to make it better. And this is a start with the transparency, and moving in that direction with the RTA Board.”

RTA issued a statement Tuesday: “On Monday, May 21, Bruce Hampton was removed from his position as Deputy General Manager of Human Resources at RTA,  pending further action. George Fields, the director of training and employee development, has been named as acting deputy general manager of human resources."

Management continues to work through the details of the investigation (into the matter involving former RTA Board President George Dixon) to determine what additional actions may be necessary throughout the organization.”

The I-TEAM also asked Dixon if he’s worried about going to jail. He said, “Of course, I worry every day. I have sleepless nights.”

We also wanted to know what Dixon would say to riders struggling with fare increases and cuts in service. He said he didn’t think his situation had anything to do with fares and services cuts, and he hopes people don’t lose faith in RTA.