CATS drug test debacle: Boss tests positive for meth
BATON ROUGE- The Capital Area Transit System (CATS) is once again selectively enforcing its zero-tolerance drug policy. The WBRZ Investigative Unit uncovered a high-level administrator tested positive for methamphetamine and the bus system took no action against him.
CATS operates on a nearly $30 million budget, funded by tax dollars. John Cutrone is the comptroller at CATS and controls its money. According to documents obtained by the WBRZ Investigative Unit, he tested positive for illicit drugs.
CATS has known since January about Cutrone's failed drug test, and it appears it has done nothing. It's not the first time the bus system turned a blind eye to their zero-tolerance policy for select individuals.
In 2019, WBRZ exposed that another administrator, Garrick Rose, was hired despite a failed drug test. WBRZ uncovered that CATS fired at least 10 other employees who failed drug tests around that same time.
The selective enforcement of their drug policy caused us to track down CEO Bill Deville. He acted like he had no idea that Rose was on drugs.
"Are you serious?" Deville said in 2019.
Fast forward to 2022, and the problem has reared its head again—this time with Cutrone.
Cutrone failed a random drug screen, testing positive for methamphetamine in January. CATS did a follow-up test nearly two weeks later with a split sample to confirm the first test. The results were the same, positive for meth.
The drug test gives people a little leeway. The amount considered a positive is 500. Cutrone's level of methamphetamine was 3,233.
The WBRZ Investigative Unit checked with numerous human resource professionals and those familiar with how drug testing works. All of them say there's nothing you can take over the counter or get via prescription that will cause you to test positive for methamphetamines.
That is also backed up by an internal CATS document sources provided to the WBRZ Investigative Unit.
"Methamphetamine does not have any medications or prescriptions to support an individual medical condition for taking this illegal drug or gives a reason for these drugs appearing in your body," the department noted.
The document goes on to say the CATS human resources department recommended Cutrone's termination, since its policy requires immediate termination.
WBRZ requested an interview with Deville again. He refused to do an interview, so we caught up with him leaving work.
We asked Deville if CATS has a zero-tolerance drug policy.
"Umm, yes, we do," Deville said. "Umm, it's umm, a federal grantee is required to have a safety sensitive drug-free operation. So, umm, because we are in a total situation of being drug-free, etc."
WBRZ asked Deville why he's selectively enforcing the zero-tolerance policy.
"We decided in 2018 to create a better policy that all employees would be subject to a drug-free policy," Deville said.
He refused to speak to the fact that the WBRZ Investigative Unit found Cutrone coming and going from work after his failed test. WBRZ asked how someone who failed a drug test could still be employed by CATS.
"That's why we are investigating," Deville said.
"You're investigating why he's here?" Chief Investigator Chris Nakamoto asked in response.
"You're twisting words," Deville said. "I've got to go... I'm going to get back to you."
CATS referred WBRZ to its lawyer, Dedrick Moore. We did not hear back on Wednesday.
CATS released the following statement Thursday in response to WBRZ's story.
"Capital Area Transit System (CATS) is shocked and disappointed that WBRZ would run a story about the drug test of one of CATS’ managerial employees. An employee’s drug test results are strictly protected as confidential pursuant to Louisiana law. An investigation is underway in an attempt to determine who released this confidential information to WBRZ. In the event that person is still employed by CATS, he or she will be terminated.
Regarding the drug test in question, such test was administered to CATS’ Comptroller in violation of CATS’ existing drug policy which authorizes random testing of only safety sensitive positions such as bus operators and mechanics. The Agency’s Comptroller does not serve in a safety sensitive position. The Human Resources employee who directed this random test to be administered to CATS’ Comptroller is no longer with the Agency.
As to your station’s allegations that the individual in question “failed” the drug test, Mr. Cutrone, the Comptroller, has steadfastly denied consuming or taking any illicit drugs of any type. Moreover, it has since been confirmed that CATS’ Comptroller had been prescribed Adderall for at least the last ten years. Certain medical professionals have opined, at least preliminarily, that Adderall can produce a false position result of amphetamine in a drug test. Further medical opinions in this regard are being pursued as CATS’ investigation progresses.
As of this point, Mr. John Cutrone remains employed by CATS pending the resolution of CATS’ investigation."
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