Watchdog for city taxpayers under investigation, accused of bullying

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The man in charge of exposing waste, fraud and abuse in the City of Richmond is now under investigation himself.

According to City Council members who reviewed a report being kept under lock and key at the City Attorney’s Office, City Auditor Umesh Dalal is accused of verbally abusing and bullying the 14 staffers in his office. Council members tell 8News his job could be in jeopardy.

Richmond City Council commissioned a third party to review Dalal’s job performance after his staff made allegations of mistreatment.

“I don’t see anything to back it up,” said Councilwoman Reva Trammell, who read the report.

Trammell says there are two sides to every story, and she wants to hear from Dalal. But another council member told 8News that “we have a moral obligation to protect city employees.”

That same employee also said the report alleges high turnover in the auditors office and claims the city auditor skirted procurement rules when he hired a friend’s son.

“Well, first of all, we like to see a copy of the report,” said Harris Butler of Butler Royals PLC, which  is representing Dalal,

He says his client was only given a summary of the report and wants a chance to address the facts.

“There is no question Mr. Dalal is a strict taskmaster. If employees are concerned he is hard on them, he is,” Butler said. “They should want that.”

Many in the community have seen the auditor as a champion for citizens, exposing everything from misuse of city vehicles to the former department of public works director doing work for his church on city time.

Trammell says she has been flooded with calls from concerned constituents.

“They are mad and they’re saying this is the only person we got that is looking out for the taxpayers,” Trammell said.

Council will meet on Monday in a closed session to discuss the auditor’s fate. One council member told 8News they are on the fence about whether to discipline Dalal or fire him.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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