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Rumour Mill: On Putting People Who Have Felony Theft Convictions In Charge of Payroll in Government (Somervell County)




Somervell County has had at least three instances, that I know of, where an employee working for a public governmental entity, either embezzled money from the entity or worked with money while convicted of a felony.  One, back in 2015, was Melanie Reese, former City Secretary of Glen Rose who plea bargained theft of government funds. A second was Janice Nickell who embezzled from Glen Rose Medical Center in 2013. And then there was Liz Morgan, who embezzled church money and spent at least part of it to take her child on a $20,000 Florida vacation. She worked for Glen Rose Medical Center in charge of patient records and HIPAA privacy officer, presumably taking off an hour or so every week to attend her probation officer hearing. 

felony.thumb.png.29b920b5a1dfe7d015b6d9cb5072cb59.pngVery recently a friend of mine told me that there is a felon working in payroll at Somervell County Courthouse, where Danny Chambers is judge. Although Treasurer is an elected position, payroll is not, and the felony this person plead guilty to was Theft of Property $20k>$100k. A couple of people did a background check on this person and found that the offense she was arrested for was a felony classification, offense code 23990010, with probation begin date of 20130617, sentence CommunitySupervisionCountySomervell.

I have a few questions. When was she hired to work in payroll, ie, dealing with money, for Somervell County? Did anyone flag her activity when she was hired? Have heard that the former treasurer, Susie Graves, hired her, apparently without the benefit of doing a background check on her first. What are this payroll person's probation terms?  If her probation terms were 10 years, then was she on probation for this felony when she was hired? Second, she was not hired for a Human Resourced job initially. When did that happen and why? Who is the person that oversees what she does? Is it the treasurer (Valerie Williams) ? The auditor (Nikky Weeden) ? Surely she's not a person, with a felony record, in a department with no oversight. Mentioning that I will be updating this post after the open records request I have done asking for her criminal record, including probation disposition.

My personal opinion remains the same as it has been with the 3 previous incidents where someone stole money and had a job that dealt with money. Are there not plenty of other job either now or in the future that a person can apply for when one is a felon other than dealing with money and sensitive data? I think so. And apparently, at this moment, Danny Chambers and the commissioners know that this woman was convicted of being a felon. Why is she still there? Is there absolutely no one in the area who knows how to do payroll and is not a felon for the job? The taxpaying public deserves to have confidence that the people in charge of their money in ANY position do not have a theft felony and confidence that others in charge will not close their eyes and ignore that background. And it's not only money but other personal information dealing with payrolls. Even if one argues that this felon's work is being overseen by the auditor, Nikki Weeden, is that really the way that business should be conducted, having to scrupulously being on guard against theft from someone who is already convicted of same? (Maybe you would do this with family members, but this is dealing with public taxpayer money)  Mentioning also that this is a Right To Work state, which is a deceptive misnomer for being able to fire someone at any time for any reason. From the Somervell County Personnel Policies


Below is the audio of  the County Commissioners coming out of executive session and voting on a new HR department. Apparently the person doing payroll also was given the job of human resources, without any salary bump. The new position  for HR apparently   cuts out the current payroll employee who "wears many hats". She was clearly not happy, even though she was NOT getting a salary change but is apparently being paid the same without having the duty of being *the* HR person, and carried on about it (listen below and you can hear). Why does someone care this much about a position for which she was not even being paid?

Anyone know what this woman is referring to? Were there payroll problems already under her watch? What were those problems and how were they resolved? I'd also like to know why this week, her job of HR was cut off. What happened? Did the court finally realize this was a colossally bad idea or did something happen that made it imperative? Chambers makes the comment that back in 2019, the departments were changed.

Some more timeline.

Compare the 2023 budget and the 2022 budget

First, I can find no entry for HR or Human Resources. Maybe sharper eyes can locate that but if this means, as the audio above shows, that they basically just tacked on that duty to the payroll person but now plan to create an HR department, that would explain why it's not there (and again, according to the audio, the commissioners were not paying the felon any extra money for this position).

The Treasury job in 2022's budget showed

2022 010-405-101 TREASURER SALARY $56,055.00 $56,055.00 56,055.00 44,374.50 79.16 56,054.64 56,054.76
2022 010-405-103 TREASURER CHIEF DEPUTY $46,471.00 $46,471.00 38,700.28 13,096.86 33.84 53,907.90 43,752.06
2022 010-405-104 TREASURER PERSONNEL $42,500.00 $42,500.00 54,110.24 55,881.07 103.27 34,005.90 0

but in 2023, the Treasury Salary is $59,000 but the Chief Deputy, Personnel and Part time are 0

compare auditor
2022 010-404-101 AUDITOR SALARY $75,480.00 $75,480.00 75,480.00 59,755.00 79.17 75,480.00 75,480.00
2022 010-404-103 AUDITOR ASSISTANTS SALARIES $81,844.00 $81,844.00 81,683.49 50,604.88 61.95 79,324.40 72,791.52

for 2023 budget Auditor Salary is $79,254,00 with assistant auditor 89,118.75

Cannot find a payroll administrator in 2022

Payroll in 2023

Payroll Administrative $55,650.00 with Payroll Clerk 0

So the way this looks is that the Treasurer had additional staff cut for 2023, auditor still has salary and assistants both years and Payroll administrator was added for 2023.

HR as a budget account does not appear in either 2022 or 2023.







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