I-TEAM: Local exec paid with your money to walk away from job

CLEVELAND -- The FOX 8 I-Team has found a top manager with RTA was about to get fired, but instead he ended up with a six-figure payout with public money to walk away.

We’ve learned Bruce Hampton just received a payout from RTA of more than $125,000.

In May, RTA took Hampton off of his job as the agency’s Human Resources manager. RTA said it had begun the process of firing him for his role in a big money scandal involving the former Board President.

Instead, Hampton retired.

And now we’ve learned, he walked away with a payout for 6 months worth of salary, plus unused sick time, and vacation time, a total value of $127, 105.80.

This followed a payout approved of $295,000 to go to RTA’s General Manager and Chief Executive Officer in a deal made for him to leave the job.

RTA said Hampton’s money was “…provided…in a settlement…” and it, “…released RTA from…all claims, lawsuits…related to his separation from employment.”

At RTA headquarters, the I-Team wondered if you were going to fire Bruce Hampton, why would you work out a settlement with him, giving him a payout and getting him to agree not to file a lawsuit? RTA said no one was available to talk to us on camera.

Meantime, riders are dealing with service cuts and fears of higher fares.

Lamont Bush reacted by saying, "I mean, he's taking money like that, and they paying him to walk away. That's a turnaround."

In May, the I-Team found Hampton at his home. He had little to say about the initial move to fire him, and he told us he would speak out later. He never has.

On Thursday, we found a woman in the driveway as we asked for Bruce Hampton. She went inside, came out a few minutes later, and she wondered why we were still there.

She then said, “I’m Bruce. So what do you want?”

At any rate, the RTA union is also questioning the payouts to high-level executives.

"The Union sees the RTA making some positive changes, but at the same time we see hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on officials removed from office while the RTA is both refusing to give it's union employees a cost of living increase and demanding more cuts to health care benefits. There are clearly different standards and benefits to executives, even those who do wrong, than there are for the workers who keep the RTA moving every day," said RTA Union President, William Nix, "We hope the search for a new permanent CEO will be a national one, to bring in someone who asks how to work with the union, instead of asking why they have to. We all benefit when we work together and the community benefits as a result."

RTA says Hampton will also be eligible to collect his pension. He had been employed by RTA for nearly 30 years.

Continuing coverage here.