By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor
“There is a difficult and troubling issue that has not been resolved here in Houston County. It has to do with local law enforcement officers copying DVDs. I’m not talking about one or two copies, but hundreds of copies on a monthly basis.
“I realize the county did conduct an investigation, but it appears as if no one that was really involved in this was named or received the consequences.
“I have concerns when county employees, who wish to bring this out in the open, won’t because they are afraid of reprisals from our law enforcement officials. People should not live under this type of fear.”
That was the opening statement made by former county commissioner Kevin Kelleher, who addressed the Houston County Board during last week’s meeting.
Kelleher was referring to an alleged incident that was investigated during the summer of 2010 that resulted in the reprimands of Information Systems Director Andy Milde and former Finance Director Casey Bradley.
In July and August of 2010, the county board held a number of closed door sessions to discuss allegations of county employee misconduct. An outside investigator was hired by the county and Milde and Bradley received written reprimands.
Eighteen months ago Bradley was written up for failure to report an infraction to the state auditor’s office. Milde was cited for personal use of county property.
At the Aug. 24, 2010 county board meeting Milde said, “I’m aware that it happened, now that this has come forward. I wasn’t aware until after the fact that it was done.” Milde added that he had not personally copied DVDs.
At last week’s board meeting Kelleher said all of the facts had not surfaced.
“There are county employees out there who have information and want to come forward. But they are afraid of retaliation. There is a high probability that illegal activity has taken place. I’m asking the board to clean this up and be done with it,” Kelleher added. “I’m asking the board to contact the Minnesota Peace Officers Association.”
Board Chairman Jack Miller said he has discussed the matter with Kelleher and agrees that there should have been a broader investigation.
“I feel we attempted to flush this out, but we ran into a stonewall. People didn’t want to talk,” Miller said.
The other three commissioners attending the meeting (Justin Zmyewski, Teresa Walter and Steve Schuldt) were not on the county board in 2010 when the investigation took place.
“I thought this was taken care of,” Walter said.
“This was investigated by an outside source, previous to when I got on the board,” Schuldt said. “I too thought it had been resolved.”
Zmyewski asked if and how the board should move forward with the issue.
Kelleher said there would be an inherited conflict of interest if the county decided to investigate this “in house.”
“My family was in law enforcement. I realize the county attorney’s office and law enforcement need to have a good working relationship. This needs to be taken out of house and handled by an outside county attorney. This needs to go to a grand jury,” Kelleher said.
Miller told Kelleher if he felt that strongly that more needed to be done with this issue, that he should contact the proper authorities and make his case.
“But who do I take this to?” Kelleher asked. “If I am going to proceed with this, who is the chief law enforcement officer to file this with? If there is in fact, involvement by law enforcement officers I can’t go there.”
Miller suggested Kelleher contact the Minnesota Peace Officers Association.
No board action was taken on this matter.
You can contact Charlie Warner at firstname.lastname@example.org