An office manager at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles was stamping registration documents without inspections and putting the name of an inspector into the computer when there was no inspection, according to a report issued Friday by the Office of the Inspector General.
Chief of Investigations Nicholas Peru recommended administrative action for the employee – whose name was not released – and removing the person from responsibility over this process, as well as new security measures. BMV Director Lawrence Olive agreed to several measures but said a 30-day time frame for administrative action had expired.
According to the report, the investigation began when Olive called the Inspector General’s Office in late May, saying an office manager had improperly processed vehicle registrations.
Earlier in May, Olive reported, a company employee came to the St. Thomas inspection late looking for a particular inspector to stamp documents for vehicles to get V.I. vehicle registrations. Neither the companies nor the employees involved are named in the report. That inspector was not present. Olive and a second inspector told the company employee they could not stamp the documents until the vehicles were brought to the inspection lane.
The company employee left. Then on May 21, Olive saw packets for 13 of that company’s vehicles for registration. Each had a road tax clearance letter and a BMV inspector’ stamp, but none were initialed by an inspector, according to the report.
Olive spoke to both inspectors who both denied inspecting the vehicle or stamping the documents.
The BMV computer system showed the unnamed office manager processed all the vehicles and had put in the name of one of the two inspectors. Confronted with this, she said “she was under the impression” the inspector she listed had inspected them. She and the inspector insisted they had not stamped the documents. Asked why she processed the documents without the inspector’s initials “she had no answer,” according to the report.
Muddying the story, the inspector listed acknowledged he had gone to the company to inspect the vehicles but all the documents were not there – and only two of the vehicles were there. The inspector said he told company officials to bring the documents and vehicles to the BMV.
The company employee said he did not normally deal with registrations but was told by “a colleague” to contact this office manager for guidance.
Pressed about the stamps, the office manager said they are usually out by the BMV’s inspection lane during inspection hours or on a shelf inside the BMV, and that potentially anyone has access to them.
More investigation found the same office manager had apparently processed documents for four more vehicles from another company without an actual inspection. And it found 25 vehicles she apparently cleared for shipping out of the territory without proper inspection.
One of the purposes of inspection, according to the report, is to verify the vehicle’s vehicle identification number is the same as that on all the documentation and is the vehicle being claimed.
The report concludes the office manager violated standard procedures.
“Despite her denials of such, the preponderance of the evidence seems to suggest” that the office manager placed the inspector’s stamps on the road tax clearance letters of the 13 vehicles, as the documents related to the vehicles were solely in her possession until later discovered by the director, the IG report says. The report also says the office manager should not have listed the inspector in the computer system and knew what the correct procedures were when she did it.
Olive responded to the report, saying the standard procedures “will be reinforced and will be issued to all employees.” He said the stamps “will be properly secured and will be locked up when not in use.” He declined to initiate any punitive action, saying “the 30 days to do the administrative process has expired.”
Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt concludes the report, saying based on the responses from BMV “we consider all of the recommendations resolved.”
But regarding disciplinary action, he said “if the individual is going to maintain the same position and responsibilities, closer oversight of the activities and responsibilities should be established to ensure that proper procedures are followed. If similar violations occur, immediate action should be taken.”