By now most local citizens are aware that there’s something going on at the Cascade County Sheriffs Office. And it’s not a “riot down in cell block number 9”. It’s a criminal investigation stemming from “irregularities with regard to some purchases”.
Since I became aware of some activity going on late last week regarding this matter and raised it on my public Facebook page a couple of days ago, local news outlets have come out with a little, very little, information. Basically, all that’s been reported so far is County Attorney Josh Racki’s press release:
“Recently, the Cascade County Auditor noted irregularities with regard to some purchases by members of the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office. The County Auditor reported the matter to the Board of County Commissioners.
The Board consulted the Cascade County Attorney’s Office who referred the matter to the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) of the Montana Department of Justice. DCI assigned an agent to investigate. Once the investigation is finalized, DCI will report its finding to the County Attorney.
Should the outcome of the investigation support the filing of criminal charges, the matter has been referred to the Montana Attorney General’s Office for review. Because this matter involves an ongoing criminal investigation neither Cascade County or DCI are unable to release more information or respond to inquiries at this time.
But there’s more information available for anyone, “journalist” or not, who cares to dig a little. Here are a few pieces of information that I have received from reliable sources close to the CCSO with direct knowledge of what’s going on:
- Within the last week, at least one mid ranking officer was placed on administrative leave, escorted out of the sheriffs department building and had his/her vehicle taken and locked up pending investigation.
- Also within the last week at least one high ranking officer has been placed on administrative leave and replaced for the time being.
- Two others of the highest ranking officials have been temporarily banned from the CCSO building and property, at least one of them was escorted from the premises by investigators.
- Arrest warrants may be coming soon.
The information above was verified by eye-witnesses and folks with first hand knowledge. I have not named any names yet in the interest of due process and to protect sources.
I’m not making this public in order to stir the pot, spread unfounded rumors or cause trouble, but because we can’t allow this kind of disturbing information and possible criminal behavior to be minimized or swept under the rug any longer, as it has been in the past.
Just off the top of my balding noggin here are several examples of local public officials and/or employees getting sweetheart treatment:
- A Great Falls Public School District employee stealing fuel from the taxpayers district pumps – covered up and minimized by the district and local media.
- Great Falls city commissioners voting taxpayer funds to organizations that employ immediate family members against HUD rules – not a one of them has apologized or taken responsibility for their actions. Business as usual and a pass from local media.
- County fairgrounds manager being let go for incompetence/malfeasance but still got a nice deal and a fat check from county taxpayers.
Everything I’m being told by my sources is that this investigation into the CCSO is a very big deal. We’ll see.
If crimes involving the misuse of taxpayer money, or other crimes, are found to have been committed by Sheriffs Department personnel then we will need a full investigation into the who, what, where, when and how.
And the investigations should be conducted not just by the DCI, but also by those who call themselves “journalists” here as well. Because we need to know just how deep the corruption and theft goes if it’s determined to have occurred. Does it include local vendors? Other public officials outside the CCSO? Family members?
Finally, if you have any information about this or any other local stories that need to be told but aren’t, contact me any time.