Columbia: No policy against hiring felons

Damon McDuffie / Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Less than one week after Columbia's parks planning director was indicted on federal charges for allegedly taking kickbacks from city contractors, w e now know how convicted felon Damon McDuffie got his job with the city.

Senior Assistant City Manager Allison Baker said Monday McDuffie was hired by the city after he completed the Columbia Work Initiative roughly seven years ago. The initiative is a twelve week job program to train students in carpentry and masonry skills.

Baker said McDuffie was one of the bright students in the class, and hiring McDuffie showed support for city employment programs. McDuffie was hired into the parks department and worked his way up to become the planning director.

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When asked about McDuffie's criminal record, Baker said city officials knew about McDuffie's convictions and no exception was made for him in the hiring and employment process.

Baker said there is no city policy against hiring felons.

When asked if more felons could be on the payroll, Baker did not answer the question directly and said he is comfortable with the city's hiring process.

The indictment against McDuffie accuses him of accepting kickbacks between October 2006 and January 2010 in exchange for granting work on behalf of the city's parks and recreation division.

McDuffie could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the two counts he faces. The prosecution is also seeking the forfeiture of $15,000 from McDuffie.

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