Three people fired by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles were later hired by a private license branch operator, giving them access to confidential auto records of Indiana drivers, state personnel records show.
Those records, obtained by The Indianapolis Star, indicate that two of those employees were fired for being dishonest during an internal BMV fraud and security investigation, while the other was terminated for poor performance that "opened the door for fraudulent title transactions."
The bureau gave permission for all three to access the agency's computer system that is used to process transactions and contains private information about drivers' licenses, vehicle titles, license plates and registrations. The three were hired by Express MVA, which operates a private license branch in Indianapolis.
Bureau spokesman Josh Gillespie says he couldn't say why the employees were granted such access or who granted it, saying those decisions were made under previous BMV leadership. But Gillespie said the bureau is taking steps to address the issue, saying Commissioner Kent Abernathy has asked for a review of former agency employees who have access to its computer system.
BMV audits found numerous problems at Express MVA, including missing temporary tags, incomplete documentation and other irregularities. The newspaper reported that at least some of those problems can be traced back to one of the employees who was fired from the bureau.
Express MVA CEO Kevin Calvert defended the company's decision to hire employees who had been fired from the bureau. Calvert said the company needs employees with expertise and the bureau is one of the few places they can get it. He also noted that employees must pass a criminal background check to gain access to the BMV database.
Brad Hoffman, a former bureau title director who was fired for "poor performance of essential job functions," said he was surprised after he was hired by Express MVA seven months later that the bureau approved him for computer access because it had fired him for failing to properly process transactions. In his new position he supervised many of those same transactions.
"I thought, maybe they are OK with me, they just didn't want me to work there," he said.
Hoffman, who voluntarily left MVA in 2011, said he believes then-BMV Chief of Staff Shawn Walters gave permission to Express MVA to allow him to work there, but he wasn't sure who signed off on his access to the bureau's computer system.
Walters helped negotiate the state's contracts with Express MVA and later accepted a newly created executive position at the company without getting permission from the state ethics commission. He is now at the center of a state ethics investigation.
Gov. Mike Pence announced last month that he would not renew the company's contract in October. Calvert said last week that Walters and Director of Special Operations Robert Wood were fired. The two had been suspended without pay last month after Pence canceled the company's contract and ordered the ethics investigation.