Shelby Co. (ECWd) -
We outlined a legal bill in our last article that represents there were discussions about an employee and pro ration of paid compensation time and resignation in lieu of official misconduct. The billing indicates that the conversation was December 9th, 2018.
Anyone who reads it is left with the impression a person was going to be given an option to resign or be charged with Official Misconduct, which is a criminal charge. We have said for years when public sector employees are permitted to simply walk away in exchange for not being prosecuted, the message sent is the law no longer matters.
Our investigation into this particular matter began in 2018 when we requested videos from the Courthouse, as we were tipped off about several people getting paid for a full days wage even though the video would prove if they actually came to work, they came late and left early on a regular basis. The Sheriff's office was in charge of providing the footage and to date were charged approximately $700 to recover the video of which we received nothing near what we asked for and virtually nothing related to our actual request, daytime hours inside the courthouse. In short, we could not establish video proof of the tip.
According to courthouse personnel, Beth Musser, former candidate for Treasure and former employee in the Treasure's office and Assessor's office was escorted out of the courthouse on December 10th, 2018. When asked about being escorted out she stated: "Two kind people helped me take my things to my vehicle."
Her last payroll record also reflects her last payday was December 10, 2018. Musser stated she decided to resign. "I gave the county 20 good years of my life and wasn’t happy working there anymore." Was her resignation in lieu of a possible official misconduct charge that was being discussed the prior day as outlined in the legal bills?
What type of actions from a public employee might constitute Official Misconduct?
- Campaigning for election while getting paid as an employee of the county?
- Deleting public records, specifically, records related to vacation, sick, and personal time?
October 25, 2018, former Shelby County employee Beth Musser was campaigning for Treasurer in Moweaqua, according to her Facebook post at 1:20 pm on that same day. Reviewing her Facebook page we were unable to find the post pictured so we assume it was deleted.
This particular event was connected to a tip we recieved alleging a person was campaigning while on county time. While we have confirmed she was paid for the day in question, we are unable to confirm if that pay was for a vacation day, sick day, or a personal day.
Campaigning while getting paid by the County appears to violate the State Ethics Law, specifically, "..employees shall not intentionally perform any prohibited political activity during any compensated time (other than vacation, personal, or compensatory time off).
What we do know:
According to payroll records, she was paid for a day of work on October 25, 2018.
According to recovered vacation records, no vacation was taken on October 25, 2018.
According to recovered sick day records, no sick time was taken on October 25, 2018.
According to recovered personal-day records, no personal-day was taken on October 25, 2018.
As far as the recovered records, we have no way of knowing what part of those records is accurate due to the events explained below.
According to this letter from Mytec Solutions, public records on the computer of Beth Musser were delated. I asked Ms. Musser: "Do you have any idea why your data was deleted? Do you know who may have modified or deleted your information"? Musser responded with the following: " I don’t know as I was gone on vacation the week before I decided to resign." While Musser may have been on vacation the week before she resigned, it appears she was working during the dates identified in the investigation report.
The investigation found the following issues.
- "EMPLOYEE DAYS.xls – This file was modified 11-19-18 at 9:04 am from TREA-PC1 system (Beth Musser) with all data on page 3 deleted."
- This file was deleted entirely from the folder later that week.
"We have printed off the contents of the 10-26-18 file that we recovered and have included it with this letter. The 11-19-18 file is identical except page 3 with Beth Musser’s time is blank."
Based on the request for an investigation by the former County Chairman it appears they had reason to believe records were being deleted, which means someone knows something. Record destruction was confirmed through the investigation and not only were files deleted but specific data related to Beth Musser's vacation, sick, and personal days were modified and deleted from her computer.
(50 ILCS 205/4) (from Ch. 116, par. 43.104)
Sec. 4. (a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this Section, all public records made or received by, or under the authority of, or coming into the custody, control or possession of any officer or agency shall not be mutilated, destroyed, transferred, removed or otherwise damaged or disposed of, in whole or in part, except as provided by law. Any person who knowingly, without lawful authority and with the intent to defraud any party, public officer, or entity, alters, destroys, defaces, removes, or conceals any public record commits a Class 4 felony.
Considering record destruction is a crime we wonder why there was no call for a criminal investigation?
Why would a person modify a file, delete data, then delete the entire file related to vacation, sick, and personal time of Musser?
The investigation was unable to determine who was responsible for the modifications and deletions of a public record. Record destruction aside, had the Sheriff's office actually produced the video record we asked for, the public would at least know which people were getting paid for a full day of wages even though they were not actually present a full day on a regular basis.
Musser's full response to our questions: "I don’t know as I was gone on vacation the week before I decided to resign. I gave the county 20 good years of my life and wasn’t happy working there anymore. I still had vacation and sick days available when I left. Two kind people helped me take my things to my vehicle. I’ve happily moved on and pray the same for everyone. Thank you."