In response to the arrest earlier this year of a Health and Human Services employee for allegedly stealing taxpayer money for eight years, virtually all Inyo County staff will be participating in a fraud training exercise Wednesday and Thursday.
The fraud training will be held in Bishop, and according to Inyo County Auditor-Controller Amy Shepherd, most county employees, from managers to clerical staff to museum employees, are required to attend.
“They’re sending as much staff as they can without creating safety or service issues,” Shepherd said, explaining that two four-hour training sessions will be held for general staff on Wednesday. One longer, more in-depth, eight-hour training workshop will be held Thursday for financial staff and managers.
Shepherd did say that her office and the Tax Collector’s Office will be closed Thursday due to the training, but all other county offices will be open. “My office will be closed because I’m having my entire staff attend, but our office doesn’t have a lot of public in-flows, so it’s really low-impact as far as the public goes,” Shepherd said.
To ensure that other county offices can continue doing business, Shepherd said the general workshop on Wednesday is shorter, with two offerings, which will allow office managers to split shifts, sending half of their staff to the morning meeting and the other half to the afternoon meeting.
The fraud training will be led by Courtney Thompson, Jr. who, according to a biography supplied by Shepherd, “has designed and presented courses on fraud prevention, detection and investigation for business and government organizations worldwide.”
Before becoming a consultant, Thomson worked as a public accountant, an audit supervisor for large retailers and as a director of auditing for a life insurance company.
“We did a lot of research to find someone with an extensive background and who can teach,” Shepherd said. “He will have curriculum for a variety of employees, from road workers to nurses to gate attendants at the dump.”
Shepherd added that some county employees, such as correctional officers at Inyo County Jail and the Juvenile Detention Center, will not attend the training as those facilities operate 24 hours a day.
The fraud training workshop is in response to a $1.5 million embezzlement that authorities believe was ongoing from at least June 2005 to earlier this year when HHS Manager Dawndee Rossy and her husband Ken were arrested and charged with multiple felonies.
Dawndee has been charged with two counts of grand theft, 34 counts of identity theft, two counts of embezzlement, one count of possession of controlled substance, one count of welfare fraud and four counts of criminal conspiracy.
Ken is being charged with one count of grand theft, one count of welfare fraud, four counts of criminal conspiracy and one count of possession of controlled substance.
The District Attorney’s Office also filed three special allegations that could add additional time to any sentence imposed. Three special allegations – aggravated white collar crime, committing 1-5 related felonies related to fraud or embezzlement of more than $500,000 and the theft of more than $1 million of welfare funds – could add an additional 11 years to the sentence if the couple is convicted.