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Department heads briefed on probe

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

(Photo)
A gathering was held Monday morning during the regular meeting of the Bourbon County Commission to brief county department heads on a criminal investigation into allegations of theft by a former non-elected employee of the county clerk's office. Commissioners, as well as Bourbon County Attorney Terri Johnson (standing, center) and Bourbon County Clerk Kendell Mason
(seated behind desk) addressed employees during the brief meeting.(Jason E. Silvers/Tribune)
Bourbon County Attorney Terri Johnson informed county department heads of an ongoing criminal investigation of an as-yet unnamed former non-elected employee of the Bourbon County Clerk's office during a short meeting Monday morning in the County Commission room.

No new information was made available Monday on the investigation, which the county commission authorized following a special meeting Jan. 3 that included two executive sessions for the discussion of non-elected personnel and possible litigation. Those sessions included commissioners, Johnson, Assistant County Attorney Valorie Leblanc, Bourbon County Sheriff Ron Gray and Bourbon County Clerk Kendell Mason.

"For those of you who don't know, there's been an allegation of employee theft," Johnson told all of those employees assembled Monday for the brief meeting.

Johnson went on to tell all of the department heads that Mason will hand out a report that each of them should "go through and verify there are no discrepancies," and then return the reports to Mason "completely and quickly." Mason said the reports show each department's expenses for the year.

She said she could not comment as to whether or not these reports are related to the investigation.

Mason also urged department heads to, for the future, use forms that request permission for a bill to be paid. She said the forms "don't have anything to do with" the current investigation and will simply be an easier way for the county to pay bills in the future.

"In the future, it will be easier to use these forms (to pay bills)," she told employees.

Gray said Monday there were no updates concerning the investigation, adding he will make information public as it becomes available.

"It's an open investigation; it's still in the beginning right now," he said.

Commissioners also conducted a 15-minute closed session Monday morning with Johnson and Mason present, after which no action was taken. The session was held to discuss personnel matters of individual non-elected personnel.

During their Friday meeting, commissioners held two other executive sessions to discuss matters pertaining to non-elected personnel, one at the request of Bourbon County Treasurer Susan Quick. Present for the first session were the three commissioners, Mason and Quick. The second session included Mason and commissioners.

Last Thursday, commissioners voted to pursue a criminal investigation by the Bourbon County Sheriff's Office following the termination last Wednesday of an employee of the county clerk's office for alleged misconduct.

Johnson has said the name of the employee being investigated is not being released because of the ongoing sheriff's probe. She also could not disclose a dollar amount, or whether the alleged theft was monetary or property due to the investigation.

Commissioners also last week passed a motion to appoint Terry Sercer, of Diehl Banwart Bolton CPAs to conduct an audit of all the funds to which the clerk's office has access.

Commissioner Allen Warren said Monday there were no new details to provide concerning the matter.

"We'll just let the investigation take its course and see what happens," he said.

During their regular meeting, commissioners:

* Approved a motion made by Commissioner Harold Coleman and seconded by Warren to place truck route signs and axle limit signs in an area located at about 245th and Valley Road in response to concerns some residents have about logging trucks traveling in the area.

"There are some concerns that logging trucks going across the bridge east of Fulton are overweight for that particular bridge," Warren said.

Public Works Director Marty Pearson asked permission from commissioners to put up the signs during his regular road report to the commission.

* Discussed briefly the biannual 17-county meeting, which will be hosted by Bourbon County this year and held March 21 at the Danny and Willa Ellis Family Fine Arts Center on the Fort Scott Community College campus. The meeting will include Bourbon County leaders and representatives of 17 other counties in the region.

"We'll get together and share with peers in other counties what we're doing here," Warren said. "It's an opportunity to get ideas and throw out concerns and see if others have experienced the same thing."

Registration for the event will take place from 9 to 10 a.m. and sessions will run from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by lunch and the featured program, Warren said.



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