Bishop police officers are investigating the alleged embezzlement of welfare funds in the Bishop Office of Health and Human Services.
According to Police Chief Chris Carter, the investigation is ongoing and authorities “are playing this close to the vest” until the investigation is concluded.
“We do have an active investigation into embezzlement of welfare funds and internal audits are being conducted,” Carter said. He added that suspects have been identified in the case, but no arrests have been made. Additional suspects may be identified through the course of the investigation, he said.
“Right now, it looks like it is internal, only at the county level so far, at the main office in Bishop,” Carter said.
The Bishop Police Department launched its investigation Thursday, Jan. 24 after the Inyo County Health and Human Services Department reported funds missing.
Carter said it is currently unclear how much money was allegedly stolen from the local welfare office, and investigators are now attempting to separate records of legal disbursements of welfare funds from possible illegal disbursements.
He added that the investigation may be lengthy, “because dealing with financial crimes can be complicated. They have complicated systems” for recording the transfer and disbursement of funds.
Inyo County Health and Human Services Director Jean Turner said her department is taking the matter seriously. Her office “initiated the action” with the PD, she said.
“We are dismayed and angry and we feel betrayed,” Turner said. “And the public is going to be angry and feel betrayed.”
Phone calls to the Inyo County Personnel Department inquiring if any HHS employees have faced disciplinary action or been placed on leave in connection with the investigation were not returned as of press time.