A biologist with the state Department of Environmental Conservation “routinely went drinking at a local bar and restaurant during the workday” instead of performing his official duties, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said today.
DiNapoli said Christopher Keim, 43, surrendered to State Police today and admitted to investigators he went to the bar two to three times a week, often for hours at a time, over a period of about two years. DiNapoli said the alleged boozing cost taxpayers thousands of dollars because he wasn’t on the job.
“At a time when state employees were concerned about keeping their jobs, this individual took advantage of his position, and the trust of his supervisors, to rip off state taxpayers,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated and deserves criminal prosecution.”
It’s the second DEC employee nabbed by state investigators for doing something other than work on the job. In late October, the state Inspector General’s Office said a former DEC worker spent more than 500 work hours on sex chat lines and incurring more than $20,000 in improper phone charges to the state.
Keim was arraigned in Albany City Court and charged with grand larceny, defrauding the government and offering a false instrument for filing. Keim, who was released on his own recognizance, faces up to seven years in prison, DiNapoli said.
Investigators obtained copies of Keim’s timesheets from December 2008 through August 3, 2011. Keim submitted timesheets that were false, DiNapoli said, because Keim was at the bar — confirmed by bar tabs
DiNapoli estimated that Keim’s missed work time the state as much as $35,823 in salary and fringe benefits.
And if you didn’t get the Seinfeld reference in the headline, here’s the Marine Biologist clip.
Updated: Here’s a comment from DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis.
“DEC takes employee misconduct very seriously. Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against the employee, which could include suspension. In addition, increased internal controls and supervisory training will be put in place to help ensure similar situations do not arise in the future.”