$150K Audit Probes Years Of Grant Bungling By DA’s Office – March 17, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

DA Paul Gallegos

Daniel Mintz

Eye Correspondent

HUMBOLDT – A consulting firm specializing in grant regulation compliance is reviewing management of grant funds in the District Attorney’s Office and its work has expanded to include what a county staff report describes as “all prior year grants and revenue sources.”

The firm’s expanded contract is said to be connected to a personnel matter. The District Attorney’s Office’s legal business manager is on administrative leave and a separate county investigation has reviewed the job performance of that employee.

Failure to claim grant revenues is one of the issues being analyzed, and it’s one that’s been noted by the county’s Grand Jury.

District Attorney Paul Gallegos had refuted the 2010 Grand Jury report’s finding that two quarters of grant funding reimbursements for a victim-witness program hadn’t been claimed in the 2006-07 fiscal year.

But the accuracy of Gallegos’ response is in serious doubt. The DA’s Office, the County Administrative Office and the county’s Auditor-Controller’s Office noticed that grant revenues failed to materialize in the 2010-11 fiscal year, said Assistant County Administrative Officer Cheryl Dillingham. “Money hadn’t been claimed,” she said, leading to “a lot of backwards research to maximize revenue.”

A Sacramento-based consulting firm, Intellibridge Partners, was hired by the DA’s Office to look into the situation.

Originally contracted for $30,000, Intellibridge began work on June 14, 2011 and its contract has been extended to March 31 for a total cost of $147,805.

Dillingham said that once Intellibridge began its review, it was determined to be “cost effective” to enlist the firm for additional work.

At the March 6 Board of Supervisors meeting, the DA asked for and got approval of transfers from asset forfeiture funds to pay for the contract, which is part of a larger supplemental budget funding request.

“The underlying reason for hiring the outside consultant somewhat emanated out of a personnel matter but certainly, it’s important for us to make sure all the funds we received, both from grants and from the General Fund, are actually being spent as they should be,” Gallegos told supervisors when asked about the Intellibridge contract.

Irregularities in DA’s Office grant management were publicized through the Grand Jury’s report and media coverage of concerns raised by the California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA) last summer.

The agency informed Gallegos that county public safety departments weren’t being notified of the availability of hundreds of thousands of dollars of grant monies.

At the time, a spokesman for CalEMA said that “management papers weren’t being filed and the state doesn’t like to delay getting money to locals.” But CalEMA has not responded to several messages requesting follow-up information.

Gallegos said that so far, one grant from the federal Office on Violence Against Women has been identified as having been affected by lack of reimbursement. “In and of itself, it’s not an issue, it depends on the magnitude of what wasn’t reclaimed,” he continued.

Asked if there’s a grasp on the magnitude, Gallegos said there isn’t. He said he isn’t certain if the grant is the same one that the Grand Jury focused on in its finding.

The grant mentioned by the DA is related to domestic violence services and spanned multiple years. Gallegos said it was discontinued in 2008 but the staffing that it supported remained in place because the funding was thought to be active until last year, when its non-renewal was discovered.

Gallegos declined to say more about the situation due to its status as a personnel matter. But he acknowledged responsibility for it.

“Is it my fault? Yes, because it was my employee and I allowed it to happen,” Gallegos said.

Linda Forbes, Intellibridge’s director of marketing, said the firm will draft a report when it completes its work. The firm won’t release the report to the public, she continued, as that decision will be left to the county and the DA’s Office.

Gallegos said anything in the report related to the personnel matter won’t be disclosed but information on the status of grant funding will be.

Forbes said Intellibridge is “providing critical fiscal services related to grant management, ensuring that requirements are followed concerning the use of grant funds.” Responding to a question, she said there’s no indication that grant funds have been misused.

“It’s just a matter of meeting their compliance needs,” she continued.

The county has handled the situation as a personnel matter. An inquiry to the County Administrative Officer last month was referred to Amy Nilsen, the county’s risk manager, for response.

Nilsen declined comment, saying personnel matters can’t be discussed. She also declined comment for the same reason when asked for general information about the status of grants.

Gallegos said that all grants affecting his office’s services are now being properly managed. The county agrees.

“I feel fairly confident about what’s going on up there now,” said Dillingham. “They have a good handle on what’s going on with all of their grants.”

 

 

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17 Responses to “$150K Audit Probes Years Of Grant Bungling By DA’s Office – March 17, 2012”

  1. "Henchman Of Justice"

    At the March 6 Board of Supervisors meeting, the DA asked for and got approval of transfers from asset forfeiture funds to pay for the contract, which is part of a larger supplemental budget funding request.

    Response: So, there IS INCENTIVE NOW (as opposed to yester-years) TO BUST MJ OPERATIONS WHEN STATE BUDGETS AND FEDERAL REVENUE PROGRAMS FAIL IN DEBT. It is always about following the money and assets that can be liquidated into CASHOLA. So, why have grants at all now when the busts are increasing exponentially it seems.

    “Is it my fault? Yes, because it was my employee and I allowed it to happen,” Gallegos said.

    My Response: The first elected or appointed official I can remember locally taking the blame…..too bad 5 Supervisors, The Sheriff, CDS, Public Works, Environmental Health, Social Services, etc…. like to point fingers as only liars do…….

    HOJ

    #57804
  2. Neal

    “Is it my fault? Yes, because it was my employee and I allowed it to happen,” Gallegos said.

    Why doesn’t the community file suit against Gallegos. He just admitted that it is his fault. We have the world’s worst D.A.

    #57821
  3. Anonymous

    The bigger issue might be deliberately lying to and misleading a Grand Jury. Also, knowingly filing a false Grand Jury response. Seems like all those thinks oughta be felonies. Wait, they are! But will anything happen in Humboldt County. Nope. As usual, a well done article Daniel, too bad nothing will come of it.

    #57990
  4. Mitch

    Oh, to have one percent of the attention devoted to investigating the DAs office devoted to investigating incompetence ANYWHERE ELSE in the county government.

    #58065
  5. Translation: hands off Golden Boy.

    #58066
  6. Mitch

    No, Kevin. I don’t have any feelings about Gallegos one way or the other. I worked on the initial anti-recall effort because I don’t think it’s healthy to have an area’s big business buy its way out of an elected threat. I haven’t spoken with Gallegos since then, and I don’t think we exchanged more than ten words even during that campaign.

    I *do* have feelings and knowledge of the rest of county government, and I stand by what I said. It would be nice to have a local press that didn’t ignore everything except its personal grudges.

    #58067
  7. Mitch

    For starters, we still have the same airport manager, don’t we? Take it from there.

    #58068
  8. That goes both ways. Grudges vs. blind allegiance. Whenever there’s ANY news that might in any way reflect poorly on Gallegos, his surrogates reflexively jump into the online fray with their time-tested defenses and distractions.

    In this case. there’s no political opponent to smear, so the message is, “Nothing to see here, move along. Hey, look over there – the rest of the county is just as bad. Go after that, not this!”

    #58069
  9. Mitch

    I can’t speak on behalf of his surrogates, but I can say that I notice how you seem to miss a lot of county-related news (oh, of course, it’s not in Arcata) but NEVER miss an opportunity to trash Gallegos. Great neutral photo and headline, too, Kevin. Real objective.

    I’ll be interested in seeing whether my 9:17 gets out of moderation, or if it’s too much of a “distraction” from your jihad.

    #58073
  10. My point exactly: simply reporting Gundersen’s appeal is “trashing” Gallegos, mandating an indignant defense, an attack on the reporting media and direction to go after the airport manager instead.

    ‘Twas ever thus with the True Believers.

    #58077
  11. Mitch

    The connection with the Gundersen story is in your mind, Kevin. (Believe me or not.) See?

    #58078
  12. “Oh, to have one percent of the attention devoted to investigating the DAs office devoted to investigating incompetence ANYWHERE ELSE in the county government.”

    Who brought up the DA’s Office again?

    #58080
  13. Mitch

    OK, Kevin, you’ve lost me.

    I don’t know what sort of feedback you got on the Gundersen story, but the only thing I commented at your site was a question as to whether he could be retried. That’s despite the fact that your headline on that story was simply wrong. He wasn’t cleared.

    In my mind, the story had NOTHING to do with the DA’s office, and I didn’t even think you’d brought it up in that story.

    As far as who brought up the DA’s office, Kevin, Daniel Mintz and you appear to have in the story at issue here (for good reason, I think). I’ve commented on what I think of your coverage, and I’m done.

    #58083
  14. “…the only thing I commented at your site was a question as to whether he could be retried.”

    Revisionism doesn’t work so well when anyone can read your previous comments rising to Gallegos’ defense and attempting to redirect interest elsewhere.

    “…your headline on that story was simply wrong. He wasn’t cleared.”

    He wasn’t? Are you saying he is still charged with felonies? If you know of any other felony charges still pending against him, I’ll update the headline and run a correction. In fact it probably warrants another story.

    #58086
  15. Anonymous

    Sorry to interrupt the feuding guys but is anyone looking into the perjury issue and lying to the Grand Jury or submitting knowingly false responses to the Jury?

    #58094
  16. Freddy

    From a personal experience the Humboldt DA’s office is 1.incompetent 2.really f…up

    #58369

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