A former Douglas County Social Services case manager has been indicted on two counts of theft by the Douglas County special grand jury.
Oakland resident Rena Petri is accused of stealing $4,400 by using her position as a case manager to create fraudulent documents for fictitious rental assistance.
According to the county, she is accused of taking $2,400 and $2,000. She is no longer employed with the county.
The theft was uncovered after the Douglas County Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline received a tip.
Petri worked in the Social Services department from August 2018 through June 2021.
The hotline was created in May 2018 and is administered by an independent third party. Each complaint is thoroughly investigated, and the status of complaints is reported to the Douglas County Audit Committee by the County’s independent Internal Auditor, Moss Adams.
“When complaints are substantiated, appropriate steps are taken to address violations of County Code and/or County policy and to hold the individuals responsible accountable for their actions,” according to the county.
So far, the Fraud Waste and Abuse program has resulted in this one referral to the District Attorney’s Office for criminal investigation.
“Although I am disappointed by the circumstances of this isolated incident, I am encouraged by the fact that the safeguards the board of county commissioners and county leadership has put in place are working to catch and address instances of wrongdoing quickly” said Patrick Cates, Douglas County Manager. “When I was first hired as county manager, I made it clear I consider public service to be a privilege. I understand we are entrusted by the public to be good stewards of taxpayer money. There is no place in this organization for anyone who would betray that trust. Together with the County Commission, we remain committed to ensuring transparency and accountability in local government.”
The county has taken a number of steps since 2018 to review and update financial policies and internal controls to detect and prevent the misuse of County funds and resources. Douglas County employees receive training annually on ethics in government and are encouraged as a part of this training to use the hotline to report suspected wrongdoing.
Prior to this investigation, the new social services manager, who was hired in 2021, had already started to formalize processes, create department efficiencies, and improve service delivery and performance. In addition to the work done as part of this criminal investigation, the county is also currently working with Moss Adams and Social Services Management to conduct a thorough review of operating procedures within the department to identify additional needed changes.
District Attorney Mark Jackson and Deputy District Attorney Matt Johnson presented evidence in the case to the grand jury.
A warrant has been issued for Petri’s arrest with a bail set at $10,006 cash only.