Lane County Commissioners Denounce Oregon State Bar Letter Regarding Firing of Liane Inkster

Nov 1, 2014

Credit Lane County

Lane County Commissioners Sid Leiken and Jay Bozievich released a statement Friday afternoon in response to the Oregon State Bar clearing a former administrator of criminal conduct.

The commissioners say Liane Inkster, formerly Liane Richardson, violated county policy by selling more leave time than was allowed and that she lied about it. Inkster was fired last year.

In a letter from the State Bar, a Lane County investigation is quoted indicating Inkster did not act fraudulently and that Board Chair Sid Leiken and Vice Chair Jay Bozievich knew about and approved the changes in her compensation.

But in the statement issued Friday, Leiken and Bozievich say the State Bar did not interview any of the commissioners in its investigation.

The commissioners say they will ask the State Bar to reopen the investigation and to interview all parties involved. The Commissioner's statement released Oct. 31, 2014 is below:

In April, the Oregon State Bar issued a letter in response to a request from Liane Inkster. The issues surrounding Ms. Inkster's employment with Lane County and her termination have been well established in the public record in the months following Ms. Inkster's termination in 2013. The position of the Board of Commissioners has been clear: Ms. Inkster violated Lane County policy by selling more time management than what was allowed according to the Lane Manual and was found to be untruthful.

Lane County hired an outside investigator to examine the facts of the case and present this information to the Board of Commissioners. Following Ms. Inkster's termination, the Board requested the case be forwarded to an outside district attorney to determine whether any criminal violations had taken place. The independent investigation concluded that Ms. Inkster sold more time management than what was allowed and found her to be untruthful. Neither investigation concluded any involvement or justification for this action by any member of the Board of Commissioners. The district attorney opted not to file charges in part because Ms. Inkster had already been terminated by the County, and agreed to pay back the amount of time management improperly sold, concluding the incident.

The Oregon State Bar's conclusions rely heavily on Ms. Inkster's statements, and do not seem to have taken in any of the information or conclusions in either of the previous investigations. The Bar did not interview any of the commissioners before issuing this letter. Had the Bar looked closely at the situation it likely would have come to a conclusion consistent with the two prior investigations.

The "audit" referenced in the Bar's letter is curious. No audit was done of Ms. Inkster's misdeeds. An investigation by the firm USO Consulting was conducted regarding Ms. Inkster's actions. The interim County Administrator did a 'pre-audit' to look at internal procedural issues. Simply put, the pre-audit conducted by the accounting firm Moss Adams LLP did not make these conclusions. Instead, the pre-audit recommended structural changes to separate departments to provide greater protections from abuse and additional checks and balances, consistent with industry best practices.

As Lane County Commissioners, who only saw this letter today, we will be following up with the State Bar to ask them to reopen the investigation, interview all parties involved and issue a revised letter of findings based on the facts of this matter.

Signed,

Sid Leiken

Lane County Commissioner

Jay Bozievich

Lane County Commissioner