Column: 2 sets of books for District Attorney Bell?

You won’t find many people in the District Attorney’s office on Friday afternoon. While the courthouse is usually open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., the employees in the D.A.’s office are working alternative hours. On a weekday, several will come into the office around 6 a.m. and work until closing time. Then they rotate taking every other Friday off.

While the employees may enjoy two three-day weekends a month, how does this schedule affect the public, victims, and attorneys they support?

The public seeking assistance from the office may find no one at the front. Even when they do meet someone, they may not be the person who can help them. Attorneys who are still trying cases on Friday afternoon may not find anyone to perform the duties they need to prosecute cases. However, those cases may be the least of their worries.

Each employee submits a time sheet for the hours they worked. When I was shown the timesheets, it appeared all the employees were correctly entering their times of arrival and departure. However, when the data is transferred to computer entry, according to the D.A. the computer system will not accept input of anything over 8 hours. The pay manager has elected to input 8 hours five days a week into the payroll whether those employees actually worked those hours or not.

When Human Resources of the Administrative Office of the Courts in Raleigh was called, they verified that this procedure was not acceptable.They also stated they were looking into the situation.

In doing this, not only is the D.A. responsible for the fraudulent entered false data into the system, but also is subjecting the State to additional liability. For example if an employee is injured in a car wreck on his/her Friday off, but is shown as being present at work, is this a work related accident? Secondly, is this an infraction of the law for the D.A. to be signing off on falsified records? A simple check of the electronic key system that records the entry and exit of each employee into the courthouse will verify the hours the employees were actually present at work.

As the chief law enforcement officer of our district, the county deserves better than a D.A. who appears to be cooking the books.

There are other personnel infringements are being alleged to be committed by the district attorney’s office. Tammy Hunt is listed as a legal assistant on the AOC’s webpage. Yet, she has been reclassified as a “investigator” according to Ted Bell in order for him to give her additional pay. Hunt and Susie Buchanan already are making approximately $50,000 annually. Hunt holds no investigative certifications and does not appear to meet the requirements of the official job description (See below.).

Then there are questions about an extended paid leave for one of the McDowell employees. Despite the fact that Bell campaigned on efficient use of court time, there have been several terms in McDowell County without a trial.

Ask questions. Seek the truth. Vote for the best qualified candidate.

David Wheeler for NC Senate District 47