OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Fired Deputy Health Commissioner Brent VanMeter's request for $23,480 in accrued vacation pay has been denied by the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission.
The ruling was handed down by the commission's executive director, James. L Howard. Howard has also dismissed appeals by nine other fired Health Department employees, including those by a former official accused of being a "paper" supervisor of so-called "ghost employees" and three phantom employees.
VanMeter has been indicted by a federal grand jury that accused him of soliciting a bribe from Wewoka nursing home owner Jim Smart, who was also indicted. VanMeter's federal trial is scheduled Oct.
VanMeter, who made $87,936 a year before being dismissed May 4, had claimed his employment rights were violated because payments related to his annual leave were withheld by Health Department Acting Director Jerry Regier. Before his termination, VanMeter had accumulated a maximum of 60 days of annual leave.
Regier said payments are being denied until multiple investigations of the Health Department and VanMeter's trial are resolved.
Regier said VanMeter -- in addition to being denied vacation pay -- may actually owe the department a legal debt if it is proven that the ousted official spent on-duty time at various gambling venues, including Remington Park racetrack.
VanMeter joined the department in 1977 and became a deputy commissioner for special health services on June 1, 1988. His department oversaw state nursing home inspections and regulations.