Key airport officials caught breaking city rules

CLEVELAND - The Investigator, Tom Meyer, took an in-depth look at those in charge of piloting a $1.5 billion airport expansion project, and what he found was shocking.

It was a hidden-camera investigation that you could have only seen on Action News.

Action News hidden cameras were at a golf course following the every move of Ron Orvis and Dennis Savas -- two high-ranking officials at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

Savas is deputy commissioner in charge of the airfield. Orvis, also a deputy commissioner, oversees the terminal. An airport insider said that the two men hold key positions.

"They're responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the airport," the insider said.

Savas and Orvis are assigned to city vehicles -- vehicles that city regulations say can only be driven to and from work.

"They are not to be used for personal pleasure," the airport insider said.

If city workers use the vehicles to conduct personal business, they'd be violating not only city regulations but Ohio ethics law as well.

On the Saturday that Action News cameras caught Savas and Orvis hitting the links, they also documented that both were in their city vehicles. To make things worse, they were in another county -- Medina County at the Brunswick Hills Golf Course.

The hidden cameras showed them having a good time as they played a round of golf, ate dinner, and drank beer.

The Investigator later approached Orvis at the airport, and initially, he didn't know what to say about his day at the golf course.

"I don't know what golf course you're talking about," a stuttering Orvis said. "I was not drinking."

The city warned Orvis in writing a few months before the golf outing that he could only use his city vehicle on official city business. He told The Investigator, however, that he was never given that warning.

When The Investigator showed him a copy of the letter that the city gave him, his only response was to say that he couldn't respond.

So, why did Orvis get the city's letter to begin with? Well, it's because he had previously been caught driving drunk near the intersection of East 40th Street and St. Clair Avenue in his city vehicle.

It was 10:15 p.m. and Orvis was off duty. He was charged with drunken driving after blowing a .153 on a breath exam -- approximately 1.5 times the legal limit.

Orvis attributed the incident to "a momentary lapse of common sense."

He suffered another lapse in judgment at the golf course. Not only did he use his city vehicle for personal pleasure again, but he was drinking again despite the fact that was not allowed to do so under terms of his probation. He even signed a statement ordering him not to drink any kind of alcohol while on probation through next year.

"I've made some mistakes," Orvis eventually admitted. "I will make no more mistakes."

He apparently made another mistake when he applied to work for the city. On his job application, he said that he was never convicted of a crime when, in fact, he had been. He was a convicted drug offender before he applied to the city.

When asked if he had lied, he said, "I did not."

Action News found out that Orvis had been suspended three times since being placed on the city payroll -- twice for skipping work without an excuse and a third time for the drunken-driving incident.

His boss, airport commissioner Fred Szabo, promised Action News that he would start an internal investigation.

"I appreciate you bringing this to my attention," Szabo told The Investigator.

Orvis was promoted from maintenance manager to deputy commissioner two years ago. Not too bad for a guy without a college degree or any prior experience running an airport.

His golfing buddy, deputy commissioner Savas, was a carpenter and then a maintenance manager before he was promoted to deputy commissioner.

"It's a joke, a complete joke," said the airport insider.

Officials at Hopkins are not laughing. They said that they would not tolerate any misconduct.

When Action News called deputy commissioner Savas and tried to ask him about his possible misconduct, he hung up on The Investigator right away.

Action News will continue to monitor the situation at the airport and report on what action, if any, the city decides to take.