LOGAN — The head of the state board that registers professional engineers and surveyors confirmed on Thursday that it will investigate a complaint filed with the board against newly elected Hocking County Engineer Douglas Dillon, which alleges that Dillon had criminal convictions in 2018 that he did not disclose to the board.
“We received a complaint yesterday,” reported John F. Greenhalge, executive director of Ohio’s State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers & Surveyors. He said the complaint claims that Dillon was arrested in connection with an impaired driving accident in Stark County in March 2018, and was found by police to be carrying a loaded gun.
Dillon, who was elected engineer in November in an uncontested race, has declined to confirm or deny these allegations. But he has suggested that the complaint was filed vindictively, by a land agent unhappy with the professional surveying standards the engineer’s office has required him to meet.
If the claims about criminal convictions in the complaint are true, this could create a disciplinary issue for Dillon if it is found that he did not inform the registration board that he had been convicted. Whether or not failing to do so would constitute a violation of state laws or regulations apparently hinges on the seriousness of the offenses, and on whether they are indicative of “moral turpitude.”
Contacted Thursday, Dillon said he had not been aware that the complaint was filed.
“That’s interesting. I have no knowledge of that,” he said, adding that he has been registered and in good standing with the board for 33 years.
Online court records of the Massillon, Ohio Municipal Court show that in March 2018 a Douglas L. Dillon from Navarre, Ohio, born Feb. 27, 1962, was charged with operating a vehicle while impaired, failing to maintain assured clear distance, and improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle.
The records indicate that the defendant was convicted of the OVI and ACD offenses, both misdemeanors, and had the weapons charge, a fifth-degree felony, reduced to a misdemeanor count of criminal mischief.
Asked if he is the same Douglas Dillon convicted in 2018 of the reported charges, Dillon replied, “I’m not answering that, on advice of counsel.”
According to the Ohio Administrative Code, a registrant would be required to inform the board within 60 days of any felony convictions. If the only convictions were for misdemeanors, Greenhalge said, such reporting would not necessarily be required.
If the offenses showed “moral turpitude,” however, they would need to be disclosed when a registrant applied for renewal; Greenhalge said Dillon has applied for renewal subsequent to 2018 without reporting any convictions. Failing to disclose the types of convictions in question would be “a possible violation,” the official said.
This issue is not clear-cut because, according to Greenhalge, “there’s no real definition” in Ohio law of exactly what qualifies as an offense of moral turpitude. This will be an area in which the board may seek guidance from the Ohio attorney general’s office, he suggested.
Greenhalge said the board will investigate the matter to determine whether Dillon was in fact convicted in 2018 of the reported charges; give Dillon a chance to respond; and look at the question of whether he violated any state reporting requirements.
As for possible sanctions, he said, “there’s a whole range of options,” from reprimand all the way to license revocation – though he added, “I don’t know that this would fall under revocation.”
The complaint was filed by Andy Matyac, an agent for a land development company that has had dealings with the Hocking County engineer’s office. Matyac told The Logan Daily News Thursday that his primary reason for filing the complaint was concern over Dillon’s failure to report to the state registration board the crimes of which Matyac believes he was convicted.
A secondary reason, he acknowledged, is the difficulty a company he represents, Rockbridge Management, has run into in trying to work with the engineer’s office under Dillon.
Citing an issue he also raised at a recent Falls Township trustees meeting, Matyac said that the company has been stymied in its efforts to work out a lot split on a property off state Route 374, because Dillon has demanded that the survey work on the project conform to an obsolete 80-year-old right-of-way map. Matyac claims this requirement is impossible to meet, as some physical location markers denoted on the old map cannot be found where they’re supposed to be.
“He’s holding up surveys and transfers within the county based on his own personal agenda,” Matyac said.
Dillon insisted that the methodology he’s asking the company to use is the correct one, and suggested that Matyac may simply not be willing to put in the work needed to fulfill the requirements for an adequate survey.
“It’s standard survey practice,” Dillon insisted. “It’s not easy; it’s not as convenient as locating a pavement marking.” He called Matyac’s complaint to the board a “petty, vindictive reaction” to his being asked “to live up to the professional standards that are required… it’s laughable.”
He also predicted that the state board will end up disciplining not Dillon, but Matyac, for the inadequacies of his submitted survey work.