inyo_courthouse.jpgHow did someone manage to steal more than $1.5 million in welfare funds in Inyo County, undetected for eight years? The District Attorney alleges Inyo’s Social Services Supervisor Dawndee Rossy conspired with her husband Ken to commit that crime. Director of Health and Human Services, Jean Turner, maintains that there were many safeguards in place.

Turner said, “There are eight different levels of safeguards.” Asked to describe them, Turner said she has to stay away from specifics right now as the prosecution of the Rossys goes forward. Turner did repeat that there were eight levels of safeguards in place involving various organizations including the County and the State. She said, “I hope I can give more detail in the future.”

Turner did say that the embezzled money did not come from the County General Fund. Auditor-Controller Leslie Chapman also said the embezzled funds did not go through the County Treasury. Chapman said she could not comment further pending prosecution of the case.

In a County press release Chapman had said that the County has “maintained good controls.” But she added that “It is very difficult to stop a management person in a position of trust and authority from circumventing the system.” Turner said as you go up the chain of management, “there is more trust in supervisory positions.”

Director Turner said that it is unfortunate this incident has placed a “black cloud over good employees.” She said her staff are dedicated public servants, and they are “particularly dismayed.” Asked if Inyo County has to pay back any of the $1.5 million, Turner said she does not know and that there are still many unanswered questions.

Inyo County Administrator Kevin Carunchio confirmed that there were “multiple safeguards and checks and balances in place under eight broad categories.” He said somebody had to get around them. Pressed for more details on how the crime occurred, Carunchio said, “I understand that everyone, including myself, has a lot of questions. Answers will come out through the criminal case, and I do not want to do anything to jeopardize that case.”

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