NASHUA — City officials have asked an outside law firm to investigate allegations that a city assessor has been napping and driving around the city aimlessly during work hours.
The allegations were brought to light after a local resident, Laurie Ortolano, hired Freyler Investigations LLC to conduct surveillance on Greg Turgiss — currently the only certified supervisor in the city’s assessing office.
Following a month of surveillance, Ortolano and her attorney, Robert Fojo of Manchester, are asking that Turgiss be terminated from his position. In an email to the Board of Aldermen, Mayor Jim Donchess said Monday that the city is asking attorney Mark Broth of Drummond Woodsum, the city’s outside legal counsel, to conduct an independent investigation into Ortolano’s allegations against Turgiss.
“There are two sides to every story,” Turgiss told the New Hampshire Union Leader when reached by phone on Monday, acknowledging that he has a copy of the 21-page report from the private investigator, Will Freyler.
“The city informed me on Friday that it received allegations of impropriety on my part regarding time spent out of the office and the legitimacy of mileage reimbursement requests for use of my personal vehicle for city business,” Turgiss said in a subsequent email. “I wish for the Union Leader to know that I encourage the city to conduct its own investigation. I am confident that my behavior in both regards will satisfy the city’s scrutiny.”
At a cost of $8,000, Ortolano hired the private investigator and attorney to assist with her own investigation into what she says are inadequacies and deficiencies within the city’s assessing department.
Several years ago, Turgiss’ brother, Gary Turgiss, also a city assessor, performed an initial assessment of Ortolano’s property on Berkeley Street that resulted in a 50 percent increase in her total assessed value in 2014 — just months after she purchased the home.
She believes that having two brothers work in the same department, which has been the case for about 18 years, is a violation of the city’s anti-nepotism policy.
Freyler began his surveillance of Turgiss at the beginning of April. The investigator’s report alleges that Turgiss sometimes leaves City Hall for one to three hours at a time, taking extended breaks, napping and smoking.
Although Turgiss signed out of the office indicating he was conducting field work on several days in April, the investigator alleges that Turgiss was instead parked outside a Holiday Inn on some of those occasions, or was napping in his car at the Rail Trail parking lot.
“I request that the city dismiss Greg from his position immediately, investigate his expense reports and other activities he undertook while on city time and undertake any additional action it deems necessary to address this behavior,” Fojo wrote on behalf of his client.
The report, which highlights its findings and includes surveillance photographs, was completed on April 26. In it, Fojo wrote, “Greg has been signing out of the office saying he is doing field work when he is actually driving aimlessly around to accrue mileage and waste time napping or sitting in his personal vehicle.”
“We deserve better. I want them to investigate all of this,” said Ortolano, stressing that Turgiss has access to about $10 billion of city evaluations. “His work is not equalizing that database for Nashua, and that is what is bothering me the most. Our properties are not equalized.”