A former Erie County health worker is being accused of falsifying more than two dozen restaurant inspection reports by his former boss.
County officials identified the worker as Timothy Bean, who Dr. Gale Burstein, the commissioner of the Erie County Department of Health, says started working for the department in 2006.
He resigned, effective January 5th, citing health reasons, according to officials. But Burstein says she was already in the process of firing him anyway.
“It’s very frustrating,” Burstein admitted.
“Burstein says county officials first noticed something odd was going on when two restaurant inspection reports were filed on the same day for the same Tim Hortons location in West Seneca. That was on December 14th.
Burstein called it “unusual”. She said officials determined the report filed by Bean was falsified. So they looked at all of his reports for the prior month.
“We thoroughly assessed the credibility of all the inspection reports that Mr. Bean had submitted and we found there were 39. Twenty-five of those seemed to be invalid,” Burstein said.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn is now investigating the matter.
“We have an allegation of misconduct by this health inspector and we are determining what exactly that misconduct may be,” Flynn said.
The Erie County Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee also wants answers. Its chairman, Legislator John Bruso, has asked Burstein to come in and answer questions on the topic.
“The process somewhere has been faltered and not taken care of,” said Bruso. “It needs to be looked at. I do believe that the supervisors of this individual should take a little ownership of this also.”
Burstein said she is prepared to go in and answer questions. In the meantime, Department of Health officials are working on new quality assurance strategies. Moving forward, Burstein would like supervisors to randomly join inspectors in the field. She also would like supervisors to randomly survey restaurants about the performance of their inspectors.