Former Luzerne County human resources director Mark Szot did more than lie on his resume.
The Harveys Lake man, who quit his county job less than a month after starting it June 6, admitted to the Times Leader Thursday that he convinced a friend to pose as a representative of a former employer when the county called to verify Szot’s work history.
Szot, 52, said he agreed to resign from the county management position, which paid $65,000 a year, because the administration discovered the deception and confronted him.
“The county did nothing wrong. I lied on my resume,” Szot said. “I’m the one at fault.”
Szot said he identified the friend as a reference and employee of Golden Living Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers in his county job application, even though the friend did not work there.
When contacted by county human resources, the friend portrayed himself as a Golden Living employee and corroborated Szot’s resume claim that Szot worked as regional human resources director at Golden Living from January 2003 to April 2016.
Szot only worked at Golden Living from November 2007 to March 2009.
He reluctantly disclosed his friend’s involvement to a reporter Thursday to shed light on why the county didn’t detect his lie.
County officials have declined to discuss the matter, citing personnel confidentiality. County Administrative Services Division Head David Parsnik will resume overseeing day-to-day management of human resources until someone else is hired.
In light of the situation, the administration has changed its protocol when verifying the work history of applicants for county jobs. County human resources will now contact companies through their main corporate numbers and request signed, written documentation on the job titles and tenure, the administration said.
Golden Living Communications Director Michelle Metzger verified Szot worked for the company from November 2007 to March 2009.
Szot declined to name his friend, saying he fears the man will be criticized for helping him.
The resume Szot submitted to the county listed Donald Maxwell as his reference from Golden Living, describing him as a Golden Living supervisor and regional vice president of human resources presently working in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where the company has its administrative office.
Szot’s resume identified Maxwell as his direct supervisor at Golden Living and listed a Pennsylvania phone number under Maxwell’s contact information.
A voice message left at the phone number identified as Maxwell’s was not returned Thursday.
Metzger said nobody named Donald Maxwell has worked for Golden Living.
Szot said he falsified the amount of time he worked at Golden Living to show longevity and appear more attractive to the county. During a portion of the time period he falsely claimed was spent at Golden Living, Szot worked at Easton Hospital in the Lehigh Valley.
Szot said he purposefully excluded the Easton Hospital employment because he was terminated and feared the facility would provide a negative review of his work as human resources director there.
His resume also listed a combined four years of experience as human resources director at two local businesses from 1999 to 2003 and six years as a U.S. Army “Airborne Ranger Dust Off Paramedic and Sniper,” during which time he said he served six tours in two military campaigns. He also said he has a master’s degree in human resources organizational management from Misericordia University.
Since Szot’s resignation, the county administration has posted a new advertisement for the position at www.luzernecounty.org, with a salary range of $59,000 to $65,000.
Before Szot’s hiring, the position had been vacant for seven months. The county human resources office oversees personnel benefits and policies, including background reviews of prospective employees.
Prior human resources director Donna Davis Javitz has a pending lawsuit against the county over her October 2015 termination from the position. An attorney, Davis Javitz had been hired to the position in August 2014 at a salary of $55,000.
In addition to Davis Javitz, two other county human resources directors have been fired since 2004, and another previously left after less than a month. Andrew Check was the only human resources director during the last 12 years to remain in the position for several years and leave on his own.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.