Sex, stealing and goofing off all part of Hopkins gone wild

Published: Dec. 5, 2003 at 4:05 PM EST
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CLEVELAND - In an exclusive 19 Action News investigation, Tom Meyer uncovered Hopkins gone wild -- sex, stealing and goofing off at the airport, all being done on city time.

"Sex at the airport was playtime," an airport insider, who wanted to remain anonymous, said. "It was all hushed up.

"I would say it was a cover-up."

Some custodial workers have been playing at taxpayers' expense.

"They would give them oral sex or whatever they wanted in this room," another airport insider, who also wanted to remain anonymous, said.

It's been happening, they say, during the overnight shift at Hopkins International Airport.

"If you got into the game of sex and gave them what they wanted, you were allowed to come and go as you please," one of the insiders said.

A lengthy, ongoing internal investigation that 19 Action News obtained contains serious allegations of misconduct and interviews with 33 airport employees. Some of the workers claim sex was exchanged for cushy assignments, including the OK to sleep on the job.

There were cushy assignments and no assignments at all. In some cases, taxpayers were billed for ghost employees to clean what some passengers have called a dirty airport.

Custodians were swiped in and out to appear that they were doing their jobs when, in fact, they never would show up to work. City records said that the ghost employees "were paid for time" that they didn't work.

One of the airport insiders said that he was assured that it was OK to cheat.

"Don't worry. Someone will cover your area," he says he was told.

In addition to ghost employees and employees having sex and sleeping on the job, 19 Action News found complaints involving robberies and the theft of city-owned office supplies and property -- things like paper towels, toilet paper, trash bags and computers.

19 Action News found out that maintenance superintendent Mike Chinn and custodial supervisor Joe Laplaca were suspended pending discharge, both in connection with the airport investigation. The two are trying to get their jobs back through the Civil Service Commission.

Neither Chinn nor Laplaca returned The Investigator's phone calls, and the airport's top boss wasn't talking either.

"I'm not in any position to comment on that," Hopkins Airport Director John Mok said. "It's still being considered by the Commission."

The crackdown comes about a year after two other custodians were fired for stealing DVD players from the airport's in-motion pictures store.

Airport employees came to 19 Action News when they felt that then-deputy commissioner Ron Orvis did nothing to stop the shenanigans. Orvis denied the allegations, then hung up on The Investigator. He's the same Ron Orvis who a judge threw in jail last December after 19 Action News caught him drinking beer and driving a city vehicle in violation of probation.

"It was ridiculous. The people over the two men who could have stopped it, they just looked in the other direction," one of the insiders said.

So, if it was all fun and games for some overnight custodians, did the airport just get filthy? Well, sources say the only reason it stayed reasonably clean is that some employees had to pick up the slack for co-workers who were allowed to goof off.

It's not known if other city employees will be disciplined. City Hall refused comment, saying the allegations are still under investigation.