City audit finds Austin Energy employee hunted on the clock, misused city resources

An Austin Energy employee is now on administrative leave after an investigation found he misused city resources. (City of Austin)

An investigation by the City of Austin Office of the City Auditor has found an Austin Energy employee likely hunted while on the clock, drove on toll roads with his work car while off the clock, and lied on time sheets.

According the the report, Jody Wood misused city resources.... costing the taxpayers money.

The investigation looked into Wood's activities between October 2017 and April 2018.

In March, two city workers saw Wood's vehicle near a deer hunting blind at Walter E. Long Lake.

The three talked, and exchanged names. After talking, the two workers returned where they found Wood a little more than an hour later, to find Wood, his vehicle, and the deer blind gone.

Wood reported he worked 10 hours that day.

"Once we had a chance to check out that city vehicle, we found other hunting paraphernalia in it, and together it added up to convince us that he was using his city vehicle and city time for non-city purposes, most likely around attracting deer for a successful hunt," said Brian Molloy, the Chief of Investigations with the Office of the City Auditor.

The city's investigators also found Wood used toll roads while off the clock - on at least 24 different dates.

On at least 21 of those dates, he drove home, even prompting Austin Energy to tow his car away once. That's when the hunting equipment - which included deer antlers, two deer feeder batteries with dirt on them, and the box for a trail camera advertised as providing images of quick-moving wildlife - was discovered.

The city paid for at least $50 worth of unapproved tolls.

"There's no work-related reason he should be driving his car there, and it's irrefutable that his car drove through at that time through the toll, based on that toll data," Molloy said.

Wood denied all of these allegations, saying he only used toll roads to get to work sites, and he was working on a job at the Walter E. Long Lake at the time he was accused of hunting while on the clock.

When asked by investigators, Austin Energy said the tolls Wood drove through were outside of their service area, and that he was not assigned to work at Walter E. Long Lake.

CBS Austin reached out to Austin Energy, and officials tell us Wood is on administrative leave while they look into the report.

Molloy says investigations like this are important because they hold all city employees accountable.

"We need to make sure any use of city resources, whether it's time or vehicles or anything else, is used explicitly for city purposes, that benefit the city, and don't benefit any employee individually."

There's no timetable when Austin Energy will decide on disciplinary action. The Office of the City Auditor does not participate in that process.

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