Baltimore recreation and parks director hired convicted felon without clearing him to human resources

Baltimore Recreation and Parks Director Reginald Moore had the administrative authority to hire a convicted felon to his department, but he should have disclosed the information to human resources officials.

This discovery, released today in a brief public summary of an investigation led by Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming, provides a missing link in the Quinton D. Matthews story.

The Georgia native was found guilty in the biggest food stamp scam ever prosecuted in the United States. But having arrived in Maryland from prison, he is now athletic director of youth activities at Baltimore’s 51 recreation centers.

In July 2015, Matthews pleaded guilty to operating a criminal enterprise, posing as a grocery store in Macon, which exchanged cash for food stamps and WIC (women’s, infants, children) vouchers – sometimes at 15 cents on the dollar – then bought back the sales. at full value.

According to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, he was part of a statewide ring of fake businesses set up by Brandon and Kimberly Sapp that brought in more WIC and SNAP sales than Wal-Mart supermarkets. Mart and Kroger.

At the time of Matthews’ guilty plea (in a case involving 87 other defendants), Reginald Moore was then director of parks and recreation for Macon-Bibb County.

Matthews had worked at the agency as a health educator between 2007 and 2011, when Moore was the deputy director.

Reginald Moore was assistant director of recreation and parks in Macon, Georgia, where Quinton Matthews worked before becoming involved in the food stamp scandal that rocked the state in 2014-15. (BCRP)

HR not notified

Two years later, in July 2017, as Moore settled into his new position as manager of Baltimore’s Rec and Parks, Matthews was serving time in prison. As part of his conviction, he was ordered to pay $629,979.84 in restitution to the federal government.

Matthews soon applied for a job with Baltimore Rec and Parks.

Unsurprisingly, the BCRP background check revealed a previous federal conviction, Cumming wrote today, without naming names. (The IG declined in a brief interview to speak beyond the investigative summary report, citing confidentiality concerns.)

Baltimore Human Resources, however, “was never made aware of the prior conviction,” Cumming said.

“If so, they would have initiated an expert meeting to review the criminal history findings and make a hiring recommendation to the department,” she explained in the synopsis.

Rec and Parks hired Matthews in September 2018 as athletic director, a “trusted position,” for a salary of $76,500, online records show.

The hiring was one of several Moore appointments that prompted complaints to the OIG, Cumming wrote today.

The drink had also heard from employees that the department had hired a convicted felon who was allegedly “the new manager’s friend from his hometown”.

At the time of his hiring, probation officials did not confirm whether the released Quinton Matthews worked for the Baltimore government.

And Moore, also contacted by The drink at the time, did not respond to rental inquiries.

Matthews today did not respond to emailed questions about his past and his voicemail was full.

Recreation and Parks’ communications office, which was notified of our questions, also did not comment.

UPDATE: After the publication, Matthews contacted The drink by telephone. When asked if he was the person mentioned in the IG report, he replied, “I don’t know anything about that.” He declined to speak further, advising a reporter to direct questions to the “media and marketing department”, presumably meaning the communications office.

Quinton Matthews' LinkedIn page header.

Quinton Matthews’ LinkedIn page header.

Management of an “unfavorable background report”

In a written response to Cumming’s report, Quinton Herbert, head of human resources, asserted that agency managers “have full latitude and final decision-making authority to determine whether to proceed with any employee with a unfavorable background report”.

HR, he said, can only make recommendations, and the agency would have deferred to Moore’s choice “even in the event the department received complete information.”

A criminal conviction does not necessarily disqualify a candidate “even for a position of trust,” Herbert told the IG. Rejecting a job applicant for this reason could violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

When evaluating someone with a criminal conviction, Herbert said, a department head should consider the “nature and seriousness” of the offence, the time that has elapsed since it was committed and the type of employment sought.

Matthews was hired by Rec and Parks three years after pleading guilty to fraud and conspiracy and about 15 months after his release from prison.

In fiscal year 2021, his salary as athletic director was $81,184, but his gross salary was $88,625.

This indicates that he received more than $7,400 in overtime between July 2020 and June 2021, a time when recreation centers were closed or subject to restricted hours due to the pandemic.

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