Tire tally could hit hundreds of thousands of dollars
October 5, 2017
The suspected embezzlement of tires from Douglas County could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
District Attorney Mark Jackson said county expenditures on tires rose by a factor of eight during the course of a decade.
According to information he presented to county commissioners on Thursday, the county's expenditure on tires went from a low of $46,371 in 2008-09 to a peak of $395,163 in 2015-16.
Jackson said more than 400 commercial truck tires that don't fit any county vehicles were purchased during that last year.
The county spent $205,000 on tires during fiscal year 2016-17 before the alleged thefts were uncovered.
The largest bump occurred between 2013-14 to 2014-15 when spending on tires went from $152,868 to $354,605.
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County commissioners voted to deny a demand notice from Reno Vulcanizing seeking a $16,000 payment.
Jackson said negotiations are underway with the Reno tire company that could result in the demand for payment being withdrawn.
Jackson said as the county's head prosecutor and county counsel he had to decide whether to prosecute the case or head the internal investigation.
"In the past I've allowed the criminal investigation to go forward before the internal investigation," Jackson said. "In this case I did depart from the usual course of action to protect the county's assets."
While the criminal case will eventually be made public, the internal investigation must remain confidential, he said.
That's because the county can compel an employee to answer questions or be fired. Nothing obtained through that process may be used in the criminal investigation, since that would violate an employee's right against self-incrimination, Jackson told county commissioners.
"There will be a time when all of that information on how much is missing will be available to the public," Jackson said.
The criminal case is being pursued by the Nevada Department of Investigation, and would be prosecuted by the Attorney General's Office.
North Valley resident Lynn Muzzy asked why county managers didn't spot the increase in the tire purchases before March.