News of an investigation into the embezzlement of Inyo County welfare funds by a County employee shocked both Inyo County residents and officials in late January. According to a Feb. 5 press release from Inyo County Health and Human Services Director Jean Turner, the suspected theft at the Bishop Welfare Office came to the attention of the Department in mid-January, “when a diligent employee saw suspicious entries into the client database and reported them.”
Turner was quick to note the many checks and balances used by the Department to prevent such abuses. “I can tell you that it would be erroneous to make the assumption that there were no security measures already in place,” she said. “It’s pretty astounding, that this happened.”
The Bishop Police Department led the investigation into the embezzlement case, which concerned what Turner described as a “substantial amount” of stolen money. According to Bishop PD Chief Carter in a recent interview with Sierra Wave, that investigation is now “at a point of conclusion as far as what we can do. We will submit it to the District Attorney,” he said. Chief Carter added that more information on the amount of money, and the suspect or suspects involved, should go public in the next several weeks.
Chief Carter did confirm that Bishop Police, in conjunction with the District Attorney’s Office, had served a search warrant to Bishop resident Dawndee Rossy, a “person of interest” in the case. Rossy is an employee of the Inyo County Welfare Office.
As the investigation passes to the District Attorney’s Office, Jean Turner said the Department of Health and Human Services will continue its own investigation into the security breach. The Department will initiate a full review of procedures in Public Assistance to see how this could have happened, Turner said, using the assistance of the County Auditor. “We’ll be looking at every angle we can think of,” she said. “The results of the criminal investigation will inform our own approach, but we can surmise some things from talking to staff. We’ll be following up on this for a long time.”