I-Team Report: Madden Man

December 24, 2009 8:46:05 AM PST
It's been six weeks since ABC7's Investigative Unit discovered a highly-paid state employee spending workday afternoons at the health club. The I-Team checked in to see what the state has done about it.In early November, Illinois Department of Human Services officials told us they took employee wrongdoing very seriously.

The governor said he would not tolerate state workers slacking off and said anyone not putting in an honest day's work would be disciplined.

But "Madden Man"- a six-figure maintenance supervisor at the Madden State Mental Health Center- is still on the job.

Martin Walsh, 51, of Park Ridge is Madden's Chief Stationary Engineer, managing the heating and air conditioning systems for patients, doctors and staff.

Last fall, on six different days over a span of three weeks, the I-Team observed him taking afternoons off - going to a fitness club inside Loyola Medical Center which features a gym, weight machines and a swimming pool.

Annoyed co-workers said the routine had continued for years, with Walsh returning shortly before quitting time at 3 p.m. to sign out.

Last month:

GOUDIE: "Sir, isn't it true that you spend at least 2 hours a day at the health club when you're supposed to be at work here?
WALSH: "I have no idea what you're talking about."
GOUDIE: "Well, sir, you do know what we're talking about don't you?"

Walsh knew all about it because his co-workers had filed countless complaints over the years to state officials - even turning over a private investigator's videotape of Walsh exercising while on the clock.

But nothing was ever done.

And Wednesday night, even though the I-Team put Walsh's conduct on TV six weeks ago, still nothing has been done.

Although Walsh did an about face when he saw us this week in the parking lot at Madden, he was still at work.

According to state records he was not suspended; he is still being paid a full time state salary; his responsibilities as chief engineer were not curtailed. Through December 29, state records show Walsh has been paid more than $105,000.

After Walsh retreated indoors, a state security officer invited us inside to speak with Madden hospital supervisors.

But after waiting for an official to appear, we were told there had been a mix-up and we were ordered to leave.

So six weeks after our original report, there has been no promised discipline; nor has there been an explanation for Mr. Walsh getting paid overtime to make up for his afternoon's off at the gym. On October 1, we followed Walsh to a healthclub. More than two hours later he came back to work. According to timesheets obtained by the I-Team under the Freedom of Information Act, Walsh put in for two and a half hours of overtime that day to do paperwork. Days later, he worked six hours of overtime for a "paperwork backlog and purging of office files."

Our story did prompt a protest at Madden last month - with a few picketers carrying signs "We get furloughed, he gets overtime" and "He's paid-to-play and I get fired."

Despite the outrage and the passage of time, on Wednesday night the Illinois Department of Human Services claimed the investigation of Martin Walsh is "ongoing."

In a statement, state officials said the process can take "several months" and that the Department of Human Services doesn't have a "one size fits all" policy on whether an employee should be suspended while under investigation.

In Mr. Walsh's case they tell us: "the department made the decision that Mr. Walsh should come to work to perform his assigned duties rather than be put on paid administrative leave." However, Walsh is not allowed to work any overtime while the investigation continues.


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