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Persistent rumors of Johnstown Redevelopment Authority head Ron Repak’s questionable business tactics appeared to be verified with Repak’s firing in February.
Repak and his administrative assistant, Deborah Walters, were suspended Feb. 11 and officially fired on Feb. 25 for violating the authority’s policy on income from outside consulting.
Federal agents also have been investigating.
Repak and Walter are accused of receiving more than $130,000 from Conemaugh Health System for consulting work on the former Greater Johnstown Tech Park, which was a joint project by Memorial Medical Center and the redevelopment authority.
Information about the alleged double dipping came to light in 2011, when the authority was given a copy of an internal investigation by Conemaugh.
It showed Repak and Walter worked on the project both as employees of the redevelopment authority and as representatives of the consulting firm Diversified Development Technologies.
The investigation report by attorneys Stephen Birek and James R. Walsh was presented Nov. 13, 2007, to the directors of Conemaugh Enterprises Inc., the subsidiary overseeing the tech park development.
“Questions exist as to whether ... the services being provided by Ron Repak and/or Deborah Walter were being provided as agents of (Diversified Development) or in their capacity as employees of the (Johnstown Redevelopment Authority).”
The redevelopment authority board was provided a copy of the investigation report in 2011, about the same time it learned about the federal investigation.
“We have become aware through direct knowledge that a governmental investigation exists related to the activities of a responsible authority employee. However the scope and conclusion of the investigation is unknown at this time,” noted the Wessel & Co. audit for 2010 filed in midsummer 2011.
To avoid interfering with the federal authorities, Repak was allowed to remain on the job, but his job was severely limited by a resolution approved by the board in August 2011. That action removed Repak from involvement in the Johnstown Regional Sewage operation and tightened the rules on gifts and outside reimbursement for employees.
To date, no information has been released on the federal probe, but sources say the investigation is ongoing.
It was not the first time Repak got in trouble for outside work. In fact, his work with the tech park violated an agreement inked in 2000 after his board learned he was moonlighting with development of $14 million ice arena in Jamestown, N.Y.
The late Lou Guzzi’s Dynamic Design Engineers Inc. of Johnstown was the developer for The Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena project, spearheaded by The Gebbie Foundation of Jamestown.
Board members voted 4-1 in August 2000 to allow employees to engage in reasonable amounts of outside work, provided there is full disclosure and board approval in all cases. Work in Cambria and neighboring counties is prohibited.
No charges have been filed in the investigation.
Randy Griffith covers Johnstown Redevelopment Authority for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/photogriffer57.