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Schenectady worker fired after officials learn of criminal history

Schenectady worker fired after officials learn of criminal history

City: Man never started work as code enforcement officer
Schenectady worker fired after officials learn of criminal history
Photographer: Shutterstock

SCHENECTADY — A city employee has been fired, after officials learned he is a registered sex offender, Mayor Gary McCarthy confirmed Wednesday.

Matthew Clark, 33, was initially hired to work in the city’s waste department as a garbage truck driver in May 2016. He recently applied for an open housing inspector job with the city, at which point officials became aware of his criminal history.

EDITORIAL: Tighten up background checks

Clark, a city resident, was convicted in March 2006 of forcibly touching a 15-year-old girl a year earlier. He was sentenced to six years of probation for the misdemeanor, according to the state’s sex offender registry.

McCarthy said he became aware of Clark’s background last week, and Clark was no longer working for the city as of this week. McCarthy said he believes that, had the city known of Clark’s background sooner, he would not have been hired to work in the waste department.

Clark said Wednesday that he has received a notice of discipline but has not been fired. He said he has been treated unfairly and that he’s worked for the city for more than a year without incident.

McCarthy said that, in this case, the civil service paperwork takes time, but that Clark has indeed been fired.

Clark did not list the sex offense conviction on his application, McCarthy said.

When asked Wednesday whether he indicated the prior conviction on his original application, Clark said he couldn’t remember for sure.

“I would assume I did because I normally do,” he said. “There’s no point in trying to lie; I can’t hide from it.”

When asked how Clark's criminal background went unnoticed until last week, McCarthy said prospective employees fill out applications and sign their names to them under the penalty of perjury. It’s typically up to department heads to reach out to candidates and bring them in for further vetting, he said.

Moving forward, the city will formalize its review process so it does not rely solely on an applicant’s affirmation, he said.

“It’s a flaw in the system that I’m just not happy with,” McCarthy said. “I expressed that to department heads, and we’re going to see some dramatic shifts this week.”

Clark was fired before he started work as a housing inspector, officials said. An opening was posted for the position June 8. Housing inspectors are tasked with registering and inspecting rental properties, responding to code violations and complaints, and reviewing the condition of Section 8 housing units.

The firing comes about four months after a city codes officer, Kenneth Tyree, was indicted for his role in the deadly Jay Street fire. In addition to manslaughter charges, Tyree, 53, is accused of lying on his employment application in 2013. His lawyer said at a bail hearing that Tyree had two decades-old felonies, including a case related to a phony check scheme and one related to a burglary.

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