Allegations of extramarital affair at METRO
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- New allegations suggest a romantic affair led to the document shredding at METRO. We're hearing that METRO's president wanted to hide his relationship with a co-worker, and that may have been behind the shredding. An investigation into document shredding that has turned into revealing details about romance on the job.There is already a criminal investigation into the document shredding. Today, for the first time, we are hearing why some of it may've been done. If it's true, it is likely something people caught in compromising situations can sympathize with. You don't want to get caught, so you try to keep it secret. Lloyd Kelley couldn't offer proof documents were destroyed to keep an affair hush-hush, but his lawyer made the allegation in open court leaving METRO to defend itself.
METRO president Frank Wilson didn't say anything today. And his lawyer tried to tell us we hadn't heard what we'd just been told.
"There's no suggestion that there is any improper relationship," said Robin Gibbs, Wilson's attorney.
Just minutes earlier, though, Kelley's lawyer told the judge just that.
Attorney Michael West said, "He is having a personal relationship with his chief of staff that is inappropriate."
Kelley -- who asked for METRO documents under the freedom of information laws -- says some of those documents were destroyed. Kelley can't offer proof and metro denies the allegation. Kelley says METRO President Frank Wilson wanted some documents to disappear to hide his relationship with Joanne Wright, his chief of staff.
"His personal relationship plays into his motivation to destroy or secret the information," West asserted. "I believe the evidence is going to come out and show that he is using public money to further that personal relationship."
We reviewed METRO travel expense reports. They show that Wilson and Wright do travel together often. They've taken 13 trips together since February 2006. On at least six of those trips taxpayers have picked up hotel and meal costs on weekends for the pair. Most recently this past October when documents show Wilson and Wright spent the weekend before a transit conference in Orlando. Travel expense reports show they billed taxpayers for separate hotel rooms but had several meals together -- paid for by you.
Frank Wilson's expenses are approved by the board of directors, but Wright's, by the way, appear to be approved only by Frank Wilson.
Gibbs said, "Those allegations will be dealt with in due course."
Then there's the question of Joanne Wright's compensation as chief of staff. METRO documents show Wright got a raise in December 2008 to $113,000 a year. In August 2009, Wright agrees to stay with METRO until Frank Wilson's contract is up in 2012. Wilson offered sweetened compensation by offering her nine months' severance should she be fired and full medical coverage for life.
According to METRO, Frank Wilson can approve that himself. METRO tells me they are working on explanations for the travel and there is no reason other than legitimate business the two travel together.
METRO says they've talked to at least 15 employees about exactly what was shredded around the time Kelley made the request. METRO's investigation has found that shredding involved innocuous items such as board minutes and extra copies of things that had already been saved to a hard drive.
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