Stolen tires insurance claim awaits state investigation
It is possible that Douglas County may be reimbursed for some of the $1 million in lost tires once a criminal investigation is completed.
The county reported a claim to insurer Alternative Services Concepts, within a month of discovering the theft of the tires, according to District Attorney Mark Jackson.
Jackson said he recently received the reconciliation reports listing the fraud amount. He said the insurer won’t move on the claim until they get the criminal report from the state.
Jackson said two employees came to County Manager Larry Werner on March 20, 2017, and reported four tires had been stolen out of the motor pool.
“The county manager did the right thing,” Jackson said. “He contacted the sheriff’s office. Additional information from those two employees that some tires may have been put on former or current county employees’ cars, who unwittingly purchased them from Chris Oakden.”
Jackson said he and the county manager met on March 24, and decided to contact the Division of Public Safety. Jackson took on the internal investigation.
Jackson acknowledged that the grand jury report doesn’t tell the whole story.
“I would submit it provides answers that needed to be provided,” he said. “A rogue employee committed these thefts, and the county suffered a substantial loss of $1,024,000.”
Jackson said three employees were fired due to the internal investigations.
“The charges are in their personnel files, but they can’t be revealed to anyone, even the criminal investigation,” Jackson said.
He said that Nevada didn’t allow public employers to go after the retirement of government embezzlers until 2013. The law was not retroactive.
Jackson said he has prosecuted cases where people embezzled from casinos.
“There is not better cash handling in place than at a casino,” he said. “The cameras are not there for anything else other than to follow the cash.”
He said he has prosecuted a case where up to $800,000 was stolen from a casino.
The criminal investigation is still underway at the state. Any prosecutions resulting from it will be conducted by the Nevada Attorney General’s Office.
Three members of the Douglas County grand jury stepped forward on Thursday to implore commissioners to heed their recommendations.
Barbara Griffin, Cynthia Anderson and Perry Hand spoke during the county’s response to the report that was issued on March 21.
Griffin, who served as clerk-treasurer for many years, said she kept a log that showed grand jurors spent more than 600 hours in more than 700 meetings over 14 months, not including the tours.
“The tire thefts should never have occurred,” Griffin said. “It is tragic that the whistleblower did not have confidence in either the policy or the anonymity to come forward. Everyone needs to have that confidence that they will not be penalized for speaking up.”
She encouraged elected officers to step up and take an active role in managing the county.
“We took this very seriously and put a lot of hours into it,” she said. “We will be watching I’m certain.”
Anderson urged everyone to read the grand jury report.
“Some things were said today that we felt wasn’t exactly what we meant,” she said. “What we meant will really be clear to you if you read the report.”
Genoa resident Perry Hand said that in many instances the grand jury could have copy and pasted the 2007-08 report.
“There were many things in the last report that hadn’t been done,” he said. “I wish folks would read the old reports and adhere to them.”