Verizon wined, dined NC DMV

September 30, 2009 11:14:18 AM PDT
The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles released records Tuesday that showed Verizon fed state workers for free.The records stated the wining and dining happened before and after the big telecom company won expansion of a multi-million dollar contract, one that was not competitively bid on.

The news comes on the heels of an investigation into why the DMV is missing several hundred computers.

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Verizon said it volunteered the embarrassing information, and that prompted the DMV to request the criminal investigation. Verizon also told Eyewitness News the employees involved are being disciplined.

"The governor has demanded that the state's business be conducted in the right way and be transparent to the public," DMV Commissioner Mike Robertson said.

The Verizon expense report of meals lavished on DMV workers ranges from modest fast food at Subway to fancy steaks at Sullivan's, The Chop House and Raleigh's 42nd Street Oyster Bar.

Robertson said 62 DMV employees and their friends and family benefitted from free meals from August of 2006 to January of 2009, before Robertson took over.

The Verizon freebees for state workers also included tickets to the governor's inaugural ball and NHL hockey tickets. There is now a criminal investigation.

"DMV has asked the SBI to look into all aspects of both situations," Robertson said.

It's not clear what Verizon gained from the meals, but during this period the DMV awarded Verizon the expansion computer contract.

Verizon sold the state 3,000 computers to place in private service stations for vehicle safety inspections, but as many as 1,000 of those Verizon computers are unaccounted for.

The state said it bought more than was initially needed and Verizon was supposed to store them. Where and how many remain is still not clear.

"It's important to note that at the end of the day Verizon bears the responsibility for the computers not accounted for, not DMV," Robertson said.

A Verizon official said Tuesday that "integrity is a key value to us; this is why we have a code of conduct."

Verizon said the state will get all the computers taxpayers have paid for.

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