An administrator in Lexington’s parks department faces criminal charges for prank-calling a co-worker as often as 26 times a day for more than three years, according to a Lexington police report.
Daniel H. Fischer, 55, of Lexington was charged March 14 with harassing communications, a misdemeanor. He is to be arraigned April 4, according to Fayette District Court records. General Services Commissioner Geoff Reed said Tuesday that Fischer has been suspended pending final action.
Fred Peters, Fischer’s lawyer, said Fischer will plead not guilty.
According to the complaint, Fischer would call numerous businesses and people from his work extension and then transfer the calls to his co-worker, “so it was as if she was receiving a call from the dialed party.” The person on the other end would be confused, thinking Fischer’s co-worker had called.
The complaint said the co-worker eventually kept track of the calls for 28 days. “She received anywhere from five to 20 calls.” On four days the number of calls was more than 20, and one day it was 26, the complaint said.
But it wasn’t funny.
One of the people Fischer called threatened the woman because he “thought the victim was calling him continuously.”
A city telecommunications specialist spent 18 to 24 months trying to determine whether there was a technical problem with the woman’s phone. When the call-forward function for the woman’s phone was disabled, police said, Fischer then would direct-dial the victim’s phone and quickly hang up.
The phone calls happened over three years, the complaint says.
After Windstream put a trace on the phone, it was discovered that the phone calls were coming from Fischer’s extension, the police report said.
During an interview with police, Fischer admitted that he made some of the phone calls, the complaint says. The complaint is for phone calls between July 2016 and March 9.
Reed, the General Services commissioner, said the city at first thought the phone calls were a technical problem.
“When it became clear in the last few weeks that the problem appeared to be an internal one, we immediately notified the police,” Reed said.
The complaint said the prank calls interfered with the woman’s ability to do her job. Reed said officials don’t think Fischer was acting out of malice toward his co-worker.
“They had worked together and had an excellent working relationship,” Reed said.
According to city records, Fischer is an administrative specialist senior. His duties include overseeing the park’s budget.
Fischer is the second parks department employee to be suspended recently for questionable behavior. Earlier this month, the Herald-Leader obtained records showing that golf superintendent Brian Bennett had received more than 60 hours’ suspension for time-card irregularities and for storing his boat on city property.
In July 2016, the city released a scathing audit of the park’s department’s concessions operations. The audit found that recordkeeping was so shoddy that they couldn’t determine whether money was missing. The woman who oversaw the concessions department retired. The city has since outsourced concessions.