Former KSU Executive Director of Culinary Service Gary Coltek is now under GBI investigation.
KENNESAW, Ga. - The man once in charge of feeding 33,000 Kennesaw State University students faces a GBI investigation.
The Attorney General's Office asked the GBI to investigate former food services director Gary Coltek and KSU following FOX 5 I-Team revelations Coltek was being paid on the side by a major vendor he was also supposed to be supervising.
The AG began investigating serious complaints about Coltek in 2011.
He quit his $130,000 a year state job shortly after the FOX 5 I-Team began raising questions about cozy relationships with multi-million dollar KSU vendors he was supposed to be supervising to make sure tax dollars were spent wisely.
One invoice obtained by the FOX 5 I-Team showed a private company Coltek owned billing major KSU vendor Sodexo. The amount? A $20,000 retainer plus a $3500 monthly fee during the time Coltek was also supposed to be supervising Sodexo's multi-million dollar contract to feed KSU students.
Coltek would not explain to us what services he was supposedly providing to justify such a side deal. Sodexo said it is now looking into the arrangement and "it takes seriously any reports of business conduct inconsistent with its values."
The Attorney General's office also saw our investigation and quickly called in the GBI to investigate Coltek. But they didn't stop there. The AG also asked the GBI to investigate KSU administrators for failing to "report potential violations of state and federal law to the appropriate authorities."
READ THE ENTIRE LETTER HERE FROM THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO THE GBI
Did KSU look the other way during years of questionable behavior from Coltek? Despite that knowledge, the school proudly marketed their food services director. Gushing articles about him lined the walls of the dining hall lobby. But the FOX 5 I-Team uncovered a buffet of concerns stretching back years.
In 2011, the AG's office found evidence Coltek lied to police concerning two big private parties he threw using KSU food and staff. The AG chose not to prosecute largely because it was hard to determine how much KSU money was spent.
Two years later, KSU issued a reprimand to Coltek, only made public by the FOX 5 I-Team, citing multiple conflicts of interest, faking a tax ID number and helping family members get jobs with vendors.
Yet the AG's office says KSU never notified them about the reprimand. Despite everything, Coltek kept his job until we started asking questions.
Adam Joseph once ran the dining program for KSU's Marietta campus. He actually worked for Chartwells, the new vendor hired by KSU to prepare the food and feed the students. Three months later, the single dad was out of a job, he believes, for asking bosses too many questions about Coltek's decisions.
One of those questions was about Zylast. It was everywhere in the Commons dining hall, a new hand sanitizer product that Coltek loved.
"Zylast is a pretty revolutionary product that we have a big problem with Novovirus on campus," he told FOX 5 I-Team reporter Randy Travis shortly before he quit. "That's a company that our last, last producer, our last company that actually worked for us doing food on campus, Sodexo, brought that on board. Beta tested it at Kennesaw State."
Sodexo had no comment about Zylast. Why Chartwells and Sodexo chose to bring it on campus is now part of the GBI investigation.
Coltek also owns a company called Sustainovations.
A tweet dated March, 2015 from Allen Hardage, listed as the Vice President of National Sales for Zylast, said, "I am proud to be working with Sustainovations to bring this amazing product to schools, hospitals and airports."
Hardage's office was in a building Coltek owned. Adam Joseph said the talk among his bosses about Zylast was always the same.
"They said this is Gary's product. We have to use it and sort of chuckled. And sort of gave me a look like don't ask anymore. That's just the way it is."
Before he resigned, KSU defended Coltek on many of the issues raised by the FOX 5 I-Team, saying the Zylast tweet proved nothing and both Coltek and Hardage denied to the school attorney any wrongdoing.
"None of my companies are getting paid from any of those companies," Coltek insisted. "I'm personally not getting paid. Nobody in my family's getting paid. It's just not happening."
Chartwell's, the company currently in charge of all KSU food services, had no comment about Zylast, but insisted Adam Joseph was not fired for asking questions about Coltek's decisions. Still Joseph wondered if he'd still have a job if he just kept his mouth shut about how tax money was being spent.
"We're all taxpayers," he said. "There's thousands of kids that go to that school. And their parents pay taxes and their parents send them to a school, and pay a lot of money to send them to that school. And I'm sure they'd want everyone there to be acting accordingly and acting properly."
KSU would not comment on the GBI investigation. In June, the FDA issued a warning letter to the makers of Zylast, complaining the marketing of the product made it an "unapproved drug" in violation of federal law.