Hotline could prevent future county thefts
if you go
What: Douglas County Commissioners meeting
When: 1:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Tahoe Transportation Center, 169 Highway 50 Stateline
A hotline to report theft by county employees is one of the recommendations resulting from the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars in tires.
Establishing a fraud, waste and abuse program was one of the steps pursued after news of the theft was revealed in September 2017.
The case has been under investigation by the Nevada Division of Investigations since it was uncovered in March 2017 when the county received a $15,959 bill from a Reno tire shop for 44 tires, the county said it doesn’t use. County commissioners are scheduled to discuss a report on the program prepared by Seattle accounting firm MossAdams on Thursday.
According to the report, the county will contract with a third-party vendor to operate an offsite reporting system that will be available around the clock seven days a week.
The county would establish a fraud, waste and abuse coordinator who would receive and take action on the reports, according to MossAdams.
Also on Thursday, commissioners will discuss establishing an audit committee, to help uncover future thefts.
According to Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson, tires purchased for the motor pool shot upwards starting in fiscal year 2011-12.
According to the numbers Jackson revealed in October, the theft could amount to nearly $1 million, making it the largest public embezzlement in county history.
Jackson said none of 400 tires purchased last year fit any county vehicle.
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 in October.
Any criminal case arising out of the investigation would be prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office.
Meanwhile, it’s possible the thefts are being examined by the Douglas County grand jury, which should wrap up its work next month.
While grand jury proceedings are secret, the report issued at the end of its term is public.
Other steps the county proposed to prevent future thefts were to strengthen protections for whistleblowers and train county employees on ethics in government.
Commissioners meet 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Tahoe Transportation Center at Stateline.