Thefts of county property under investigation |

Thefts of county property under investigation

On Thursday, county officials revealed that they have been investigating the theft of nearly $16,000 in tires and other possible improprieties in the Public Works Department over the past seven months.

The theft of was discovered in March when $15,959 invoices came in from a Reno tire shop seeking payment for 44 tires the county says it doesn’t use, according to the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office.

“None of the tires listed on your company invoices are within the inventory of Douglas County, and none of the tires, to our knowledge, were installed on any county-owned vehicles,” Deputy District Attorney Zach Wadlé wrote vendor Reno Vulcanizing.

Wadlé said no one in the county comptroller’s office recognized the signature on the invoices, which consisted of a single line with a hook at one end.

Reno Vulcanizing did $324,000 in business with the county last between May 2016 and March 2017.

Douglas County commissioners will discuss rejecting the invoices at their Oct. 5 meeting.

A criminal investigation was initiated by the Nevada Division of Investigation. Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson also initiated an internal investigation into the matter. Both investigations are ongoing. By law, all information obtained during the internal investigation will remain confidential. The criminal investigation will be made available once the investigation is completed and the matter is reviewed for prosecution.

In response to the initial allegations, the county has taken, or is taking, the following steps:

■ Conducted an internal audit and inventory of purchased tires;

■ Immediately strengthened internal financial controls to provide additional security;

■ Retained a Northern Nevada accounting firm to conduct a complete inventory of tires and other supplies used in the operations and maintenance of county vehicles and to assist in determining the amount of the frauds committed against the County; also, to identify ways to prevent similar types of frauds in the future.

■ Retained a national accounting firm to assist the County in creating a Fraud, Waste and Abuse Program so that employees and members of the public will have the ability to report suspected fraud, waste or abuse in a confidential and easily accessible manner;

■ In the process of evaluating options for a more robust internal audit function to operate in conjunction with the Fraud, Waste and Abuse Program;

■ In the process of working with the County’s Technology Services Department to identify any deficiencies or flaws within the county’s electronic systems as it relates to the tracking of inventory.

■ In the process of reviewing the county code and administrative policies and procedures on whistleblower protections for the purpose of bringing forward changes to the code, policies and procedures in conformity with existing labor and employment laws and to ensure that the county has a strong Whistleblower Protection Program.

■ In the process of preparing training for all county employees on ethics in government and what will become the updated Whistleblower Protection Program.