"Hey, how you doing?"
It’s the middle of the workday, 2 p.m. on a Wednesday and James Grier is trying to sell us a house. FOX 5 found the listing for this Suitland townhouse online. Grier was listed as the real estate agent, so we called him to set up an appointment.
FOX 5: "We're trying to keep track of, like, all the things we look at. Is it OK if we just kind of take some pictures?"
Grier: "Yeah. Yea, yea, yea."
But here’s the thing. Grier doesn’t realize the guy holding the Flip Camera is a FOX 5 photographer or that we’ve been investigating him for two months.
Grier works for the Prince George’s County Government, making $106,000 a year as the Deputy Director of the Office of Human Relations Commission. This small agency, with less than a dozen employees, is charged with investigating discrimination complaints.
FOX 5: "I hope we're not pulling you away from anything too important."
Grier: "Don't worry about it, bro. I just work for the county when I ain't doing this."
FOX 5: "Is this a part-time gig for you?"
Grier: "Well, yes and no. Um, with real estate and the Internet, you can do everything anytime and I have total flexibility on my job, so..."
FOX 5: "Oh, alright."
Grier: "I'm Deputy Director for the agency, so...
FOX 5: "Ok."
Grier: "Affords me the flexibility. If you need me, y'all call me on the cell. I'm out."
On the day he met up with our photographer, we watched Grier arrive to the office around 12:30 p.m. and leave an hour later to sell real estate. He returned and worked a few more hours. All while using a government vehicle.
It is typical behavior according to multiple employees who tipped off FOX 5.
Tisha: "Does the office know that he is selling real estate?"
Employee: "I believe everyone is aware. It’s pretty common knowledge."
How does he get away with it?
Current and former employees point to his boss, Executive Director Jamilah Adams.
Employee: "She may not come in at all. She may come in at about eleven or one o'clock. Stay an hour or two. Leave."
FOX 5 sat outside Adams’ house on three random work days the County says she clocked in. But during these regular work hours, her County car never moved. Except on Columbus Day, a County holiday, when we couldn’t find her or the car at her house or her office.
Tisha: "How often do they actually show up to work on time?"
Employee: "Maybe once a month. It’s wasteful."
Tisha: "Nobody is watching what they're doing?"
Jim Keary is a spokesman for Prince George’s County.
"We want to tell you how much we appreciate you coming forward and bringing us the information,” he said. "We began an investigation immediately after you brought us the information and, as a result, we made some changes."
The County says Grier and Adams are supposed to be at work from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. And while county employees can have second jobs, Keary says they are supposed to ask for time off if it conflicts with their county job.
The County says Grier didn’t do that on the day he showed us the house. Instead, he put a full eight hours on his timecard.
"Just because someone is the boss, supposedly, they are supposed to come to work,” Keary said. “They're supposed to not abuse county equipment and do their jobs."
The County also took a hard look at their government vehicles.
"These were not 'take-home' cars," Keary said. "These were pool cars to be used by all the employees there, to do their jobs everyday."
Multiple employees say that’s news to them, telling FOX 5 Grier made it clear they were expected to use their own personal vehicles on the job and should not expect to be reimbursed.
Grier, Adams and their attorney came to FOX 5 to see what we uncovered and told us, off-camera, they work more than the expected eight hours a day, often late at night.
Both say they were given permission to take the vehicles home, a policy, Grier says, was in place under his old boss, Peggy Magee.
Magee is now the Clerk of the Circuit Court in Prince George’s County and told FOX 5, “That’s not the case at all.” She says when she was in charge, she “did not give him authority to take a county vehicle home,” let alone use it to sell real estate.
As for selling that house, Grier says he was “on his lunch break.”
The County disagreed and reacted quickly to what we found. Just three days after we started asking questions, we caught Grier and a friend packing up his stuff.
"Mr. Grier is on paid administrative leave,” Keary said. “And Ms. Adams is no longer with the county."
STATEMENT TO FOX 5 FROM ED LEYDEN, ATTORNEY FOR JAMILAH ADAMS AND JAMES GRIER
"As a result of the events that were set into motion by inquiries associated with this recent Fox News 5 investigation, both Jamilah Adams and James Grier have wrongfully suffered grievous harm to their reputations in the community they serve, both as County officials and as leaders of community associations, as well as deep personal pain and anxiety.
Ms. Adams and Mr. Grier were each wrongfully terminated, their lives ruined, and their reputations torn asunder without a shadow of a concrete indication from the County Executive to whom they report as to the "general nature of [any] investigation" and "potential charges which may ensue" in direct violation of the "County Employees' Bill of Rights," as set forth under Division 20 of the Personnel Law, Section 16-241(a)(3). Accordingly, Mr. Grier and Ms. Adams have been denied the fundamental right to due process and presumption of innocence to which all of us, as Americans, are entitled.
Fortunately, our system of laws provides clear avenues for relief from this type of harm. The extent to which Mr. Grier and Ms. Adams choose to avail themselves of these rights remains an open question. However, under no circumstances do Mr. Grier and Ms. Adams choose to try any legal action that they may ultimately pursue through Fox News 5 or any other media outlet."
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
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