WATSEKA — Serious allegations are coming from the Iroquois County board chairman after an independent audit of government equipment found misuse by former employees from using county money for gifts to viewing pornography. But the problem reaches further back than this recent report. The chairman says part of the reason the department was dissolved to begin with was because health department employees took it upon themselves to open up services in Indiana with taxpayer dollars. Then, they attempted to transfer business gained by the department to private companies.
An independent audit of the Ford Iroquois County Public Health Department computers claims to have found instances of abuse including use for personal gain like online dating, campaigning and viewing pornography. Of the five computers examined, 70 percent of the time used was not for government business. The Chairman Rodney Copas says, “I hope it opens eyes to the public to what their tax dollars end up being spent on, how the time is miss appropriated and how accountability is beyond compare. We have to have accountability.” The county enlisted the help of Garrett Discovery, “We use highly sophisticated tools to recover this type of information and it will tell us what somebody’s done over the last, let’s say a couple years, every Facebook posting, every click of a mouse, we can try and reconstruct.”
The report makes allegations about four employees of the former health department. It says the former public health administrator downloaded and saved hundreds of pornographic files as well as numerous inappropriate web searches which we can’t even share on tv. The former financial coordinator was found to have searched over fourteen hundred times for dating websites, over seventy-six hundred Facebook posts and is claimed to have used county credit cards to buy Christmas presents.
The report also says the former public information officer is accused of using her county computer for fundraising and using government email to endorse political candidates and the list goes on. “These computers were rarely used, less than thirty percent, for county business, they were used for personal business. Seventy percent, when we did our statistics on this, seventy percent or higher of these computers were used for personal business and for personal gain,” according to Garrett.
According to the board chairman, it amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax payer money wasted on salaries for people not doing their jobs, “There are deep roots in family and friends, you know one of these named today was the sheriff’s sister, another is the judge’s sister-in-law. So there are huge issues and nobody wants to upset this apple cart. When they commit these criminal acts they need to be charged and unfortunately we haven’t had that here.” The report is not a legal criminal investigation. It was done at the request of the county board, but the county board chairman says he wants the former employees to be held responsible with legal action. So far the state’s attorney has not filed any charges. I spoke with the Iroquois County state’s attorney after the county board meeting and coming up tonight at 10 o’clock, I’ll tell you what he said about why no charges have been filed. WICD NewsChannel 15’s Heather Good Reports