Purchasing specialist step toward Tiregate reform | RecordCourier.com

Purchasing specialist step toward Tiregate reform

It has been 10 months since the Douglas County grand jury recommended the county develop a purchasing department in response to the Tiregate thefts.

A step toward that goal proposed by Chief Financial Officer Terri Willoughby is scheduled to be heard at Douglas County commissioners meeting in Stateline on Thursday.

The proposal would convert an existing accountant with an accounting purchasing specialist, "which will fulfill some of the needs identified in the grand jury report and will be able to assist other county departments in purchasing transactions."

The accounting position is vacant in the finance department and would result in a salary savings.

"This position will assist other finance staff by preparing various account reconciliations, and will be performing regular inventories of various county goods and assets," Willoughby said in her memo to commissioners.

A state investigation into the theft of more than $1 million in tires from the county over the course of a decade is still underway.

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The Record-Courier has contacted the Nevada Attorney General's Office.

The Nevada Division of Investigation took on the criminal investigation after the thefts were uncovered in March 2017.

Much of the Douglas County grand jury's report issued a year later was devoted to the thefts.

Grand jurors said that a county employee who reported that Vehicle Maintenance Director Chris Oakden was using county funds to buy tires and supplies and then selling the tires.

In some instances, Oakden was doing work on county employees' personal vehicles and then allegedly pocketing the money.

Oakden was killed in an April 24, 2017, head-on collision after he received notice he'd been fired from the county.

The grand jury documented at least two times the thefts could have been uncovered and stopped.

The first was in 2008, when a complainant's lack of trust in the county's whistleblower process kept it from being pursued.

Four years later, in 2012, the grand jury said that Human Resources initiated an investigation that was halted by county management.

An inquiry by the district attorney's office at the time resulted in Oakden receiving a letter of reprimand from the public works director.

That resulted in Oakden moving his activities offsite, according to the grand jury report after he removed simple inventory controls.

Three county employees were fired in connection with an internal investigation into the thefts and a $1.024 million insurance claim is waiting on the results of the state's investigation.

County commissioners are also scheduled Thursday to take up a review of the whistleblower protection ordinance.

Human Resources Director Wendy Lang said the ordinance is being updated to add language about the purpose of protections, identifying who employees and officers may report improper action to, and clarifying the appeals process.

Lang said the ordinance is consistent with the grand jury's report.