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These lovebirds are in trouble

By Randy Ludlow • Feb 8, 2016 at 11:00 AM

The wedding of Robyn Peterson and Victor Ricks had a hitch, after all.

An investigation of suspected misconduct by Ricks, at the time the manager of Alum Creek State Park in Delaware County, uncovered a stash of correspondence with his wife-to-be, a Department of Youth Services employee.

Using their state computers and email accounts, mostly while on state time, the couple exchanged more than 6,000 pages of emails, including many about their wedding plans.

During the same time, Jan. 6 to Sept. 18, 2014, Ricks also spent more than eight hours on his desk phone at the park talking to his fiancee, according to state investigations.

Mrs. Ricks, 54, a training-program manager at DYS who is paid $75,000 a year, received a written reprimand for engaging in personal business on state time, including emailing her wedding planner and booking her honeymoon.

Her husband, now 63, retired from his $102,000-a-year job on Oct. 1, 2014, after 36 years with the state — and two weeks after the Department of Natural Resources filed a complaint against him with the state inspector general.

The complaint stated that Mr. Ricks was suspected of claiming pay for more than 100 hours not worked, using his state vehicle for unauthorized trips totaling more than 1,000 miles and billing the state for four hotel nights not involving official business.

The office of Inspector General Randall J. Meyer is investigating Ricks. The Department of Natural Resources refused to release the results of its administrative investigation, saying it is a confidential law-enforcement record.

The Ricks did not respond to messages seeking comment.

The inspector general largely allowed the Department of Youth Services to investigate Mrs. Ricks, who lives in Blacklick with her husband.

She said she “probably” used her state computer to plan her wedding and also spent time online shopping, reading the news and listening to the radio, according to the investigation completed in December.

Mrs. Ricks did not receive harsher punishment because DYS uses a progressive discipline arrangement and she had no prior violations during her 27 years of state employment, spokeswoman Kim Jump said.

The State Highway Patrol examined her case and found no reason to open a criminal investigation, Jump said.

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©2016 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

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