The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

March 12, 2014

State attorney general examines deal with Game Commission director

HARRISBURG — The state attorney general’s office said today it is seeking more details as it reviews an agreement under which the Pennsylvania Game Commission would pay its recently retired executive director $220,000 to settle potential legal claims against each other.

A two-page agreement from late January described the payment to Carl Roe and included confidentiality provisions. Roe has not been paid the money while the review is going on.

A Dec. 26 letter from the Game Commission’s top lawyer to a state Budget Office lawyer said the commission’s board began talking about terminating Roe’s employment in 2012 because of his job performance.

“While those discussions were taking place, Director Roe made it known to the Board that he believed he had fully complied with the job responsibilities as set forth in the Policy Manual and that if he was removed from his position he would file ... a suit for wrongful termination,” wrote Game Commission chief counsel Bradley Bechtel.

Roe retired Jan. 17 from the $122,000-a-year position he had held since 2005. A message left at a Carlisle phone number for him was not immediately returned.

The deal, now in the form of an “amended and restated agreement and release” dated Jan. 27, was first reported last week by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

A spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett, Jay Pagni, said the propriety of the deal was questioned by a state controller and state lawyers last summer when the deal was first proposed, and the administration contends it would violate state law.

“We believe that it is an improper use of public funds to pay an outgoing administrator,” Pagni.

Joe Peters, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said the review for form and legality — a process his office undertakes for about 5,000 state contracts each year — has been extended beyond the customary 30 days.

“We have asked the Game Commission for additional information and we are awaiting responses for those questions and then can make our determination,” Peters said.

Roe is a retired Army colonel who previously worked for the commission’s Bureau of Administrative Services, heading the program to sell licenses electronically. He was first hired by the Game Commission in 2001 as a long-range strategic planner.

The commission tapped Matthew Hough to take over the director’s duties. Hough is being paid $106,000.

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