YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — An Ohio Dept. of Job and Family Services employee in Mahoning County is awaiting potential punishment after an investigation found that he authorized false reporting of employee hours and tried to cover up the inaccuracy.
A report completed June 12 found that ODJFS Northeast Regional Coordinator Jeffrey Yaist authorized the false reporting of an employee’s hours worked after discovering she had worked more hours than allowed by her contract.
Yaist then talked to Mary Ann Kochalko, chief operating officer at the Mahoning County Training Association, where the same employee works a second job. Kochalko agreed to pay the employee for the extra time she worked, while Yaist erased the time from his office’s records.
Kochalko said the employee was fulfilling duties for both agencies during the hours in question, as the training association and job services department share resources at a one-stop job center. She and her co-workers saw the change of payment source as a way to solve the problem.
“I hardly think it’s the conspiracy it’s made out to be here,” Kochalko said. “We had to compensate her for wages she had earned, and I think it was a way to get her paid.”
MCTA Director Bert Cene said in an email Friday that the state job and family services office did not consult anyone at his office as part of the investigation.
“Furthermore, the report contained derogatory implications in regard to MCTA’s role in activities described,” Cene said. “I want to provide assurance that MCTA . . . acted within the confines of its role as One-Stop Operator.”
ODJFS State Spokeswoman Angela Terez said that the false time report was an isolated incident and that Yaist should have notified a supervisor of the scheduling error. The state offices are still considering the punishment for Yaist, according to Terez.
When asked for comment, Yaist directed WKBN to the state JFS offices.
Yaist works for an ODJFS office in Mahoning County which helps deliver the department’s services locally.
Terez also said that there have been only two other investigations into inaccurate attendance issues at JFS offices in Ohio this year and that neither was exactly like the issue found in Mahoning County. Neither instance generated an investigation.