Records: San Antonio paid city employees on administrative leave nearly $360k since 2016

Some were paid tens of thousands of dollars before being terminated or resigning

SAN ANTONIO – A months-long investigation by the KSAT 12 Defenders reveals that city of San Antonio civilian employees have collected close to $357,000 in administrative leave pay since the start of 2016.

A majority of the employees later resigned from their positions or were terminated, often without any indication of what they were investigated for being made public, according to city human resources records.

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Paid administrative leave is typically used when someone is under investigation for possible wrongdoing.

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City officials defended the payments in a written statement:

The City strives to minimize the duration of time an employee is on administrative leave. With over 12,000 employees, every personnel matter is different and is handled accordingly. In situations where an investigation is needed, use of administrative leave mitigates risk while allowing for due process to occur.

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Gilbert Ortiz

Records show code enforcement officer Gilbert Ortiz collected more than $6,000 in paid leave from early August to late September 2016 while under investigation for misusing his city vehicle and city time.

Investigators used GPS data from Ortiz's vehicle to show he was at home a dozen times while time sheets records showed he was still at work.

Records show Ortiz had previously been suspended for 15 days and received a written reprimand for similar incidents prior to being placed on paid administrative leave.

City officials fired Ortiz in September 2016, according to his personnel file.

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Robert Murdock

Records show Robert Murdock, the city's former military affairs director, took home more than $20,200 in paid administrative leave after submitting his letter of resignation in February 2016.

As part of a separation agreement signed between Murdock and the city, he was allowed to exhaust his unused vacation and sick time balance before being placed on administrative leave through early September 2016.

Records show Murdock was on paid administrative leave for close to two months before officially separating from the city.

In other words, Murdock was paid by the city for seven months after he submitted his resignation.

City officials to date have never explained why Murdock left his position.

He did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

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Veronica Dodson

Human resources specialist Veronica Dodson retired early this year after collecting close to $3,100 months earlier in paid administrative leave.

Records show Dodson was investigated for emails between her and another person that led officials to conclude she could no longer serve a certain department because of perceived favoritism.

Dodson said via telephone Monday that her retirement was unrelated to the investigation of her months earlier and believed it had more to do with age discrimination.

Editor's note: For the purpose of the release of records, the city grouped airport police officers under the Aviation Department and park police officers under the Parks and Recreation Department. They are the only non-civilians in the data.

City of San Antonio paid admin. leave from January 2016 - June 2019

About the Author:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.