By Mike Hellgren


BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) raided several Department of Public Works facilities Thursday.

Chopper 13 captured OIG employees removing boxes of evidence from locations in Cherry Hill and northeast Baltimore.

 

They brought it back to the OIG office at City Hall.

Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming declined to comment on what was seized or answer other questions about the ongoing investigation.

She described her agency as the “‘watchdog’ over city practices by ensuring accountability at all levels within city governance, operations and services.”

The Inspector General is tasked with rooting out “financial waste, fraud and abuse… to provide trust in City government to the citizens of Baltimore.”

Cumming said the DPW raids had nothing to do with the recent scandal involving former Mayor Catherine Pugh that lead to Pugh’s resignation. She said the investigation is focused on the Department of Public Works. The FBI raided Pugh’s then-office suite at City Hall three weeks ago.

DPW Director Rudy Chow was at a press conference with Mayor Jack Young Wednesday to announce a streamlined program to provide water bill assistance to seniors and low-income residents.

A DPW spokesman said the facilities that were searched on Bowley’s Lane and Reedbird Ave. remain open and the department is maintaining business as usual.

He said DPW was cooperating fully in the investigation and told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren he did not know what the OIG was investigating.

The Reedbird Avenue and Bowleys Lane facilities are where citizens can drop off bulk trash items.

DPW was under federal investigation as recently as 2015 when several employees stole scrap metal and sold it for personal profits — one making $400,000.

In another scheme, workers at the Quarantine Road Landfill were allowing commercial waste haulers to dump trash—and pocketing the money themselves. Federal prosecutors estimate it cost Baltimore City taxpayers $6 million.

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