Department of Health pressed by Erie County Legislature over fraudulent inspections by Timothy Bean

INSIDE: Listen to the meeting

Mike Baggerman
March 14, 2019 - 2:54 pm

Downtown Buffalo. October 9, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - The Erie County Department of Health on Thursday was pressed by members of the Erie County Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee after a Channel 7 report detailed the false restaurant inspection reports by former inspector, Timothy Bean.

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said that Bean, who resigned from his job in December, falsified 25 reports in the West Seneca and Orchard Park District. Since then, the health department recompleted those inspections and made changes in department policy.

"We have doubled the staff assigned to West Seneca/Orchard Park, where Mr. Bean worked, to ensure all permitted facilities in that territory will have new inspections as quick as possible," Burstein said. "While we do not believe Mr. Bean's fraudulent activity has been conducted by other Erie County Department of Health employees, new, enhanced, quality-control measures have now been put in place."

The new plan includes random, surprise visits by supervisors at restaurants and a survey that restaurant owners can fill out to give feedback about inspection reports. Additionally, the DOH created an automatic e-mail system which will alert business owners when the health inspection is available to view online.

"I believe Mr. Bean was a bad apple," Burstein added. "We are working to ensure his conduct does not undermine the otherwise excellent work of the department of health."

Erie County DOH inspects more than 5,600 buildings using 25 sanitarians. Twenty of them are in the field while five are supervisors who are also in the field. There are also two people in management roles.

Each inspector typically completes roughly five or six inspections per day. The DOH investigation discovered that Bean was filling out fewer than that over the last few months while he was working on company time.

The Erie County District Attorney's Office is investigating Bean. 

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