Friday, August 31, 2012

Sun Valley documents subpoenaed

County prosecutor conducting criminal investigation

Dewayne Briscoe


Express Staff Writers

Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas has issued a subpoena to the city of Sun Valley to produce records used to conduct a forensic audit of the city’s financial affairs during fiscal 2011. The subpoena was issued pursuant to a grand jury investigation “involving former and or present employees of the city of Sun Valley.”
    The subpoena, received by the city on Tuesday, Aug. 28, commands it to produce documents and computer records at a hearing in 5th District Court in Hailey on Tuesday, Sept. 4, at 9 a.m. or to deliver them to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office before then.
    The city received the audit from the Seattle office of Newport Beach, Calif.,-based accounting firm Hagen, Streiff, Newton & Oshiro on Friday, Aug. 24, but it has not been released to the public. Mayor Dewayne Briscoe said an appeals process to allow employees mentioned in the audit to contest any of its findings would have to take place first. He said that process would probably require at least two weeks.
    Following receipt of the subpoena, Briscoe said release of the audit to the public may now be further delayed.
    The subpoena states that “[t]he requested records shall not be disclosed pursuant to a public records request during the pendency of the criminal investigation … absent an Order from the court.”
    Thomas could not be reached by press time Thursday to explain whether the “requested records” include the audit itself or just the records used to conduct it.
    Briscoe seemed as frustrated as Sun Valley residents are likely to feel about further delay in the report’s public release.
    “I’m disappointed that the forensic audit report will not be able to be released to the public until the Blaine County prosecutor authorizes its release,” he said.
    The subpoena states that “[i]n the event criminal charges are filed as a result of information contained in the City of Sun Valley Forensic Audit, it is anticipated that such documents would be subject to disclosure.”

“I’m disappointed that the forensic audit report will not be able to be released to the public until the Blaine County prosecutor authorizes its release.”
DeWayne Briscoe

   Briscoe said he has been informed by the city’s attorneys that he could proceed with the appeals process while the criminal investigation is carried out. He said a schedule has already been set up to hear appeals.
    “However,” he said, “whether or not I can actually do this has not been verified by the Blaine County prosecutor as of Thursday.”
    Briscoe said the city’s attorneys had also informed him that he could “still take any administrative personnel actions that could be warranted by documentation in the forensic audit report.”
    Earlier this month, Briscoe said he wanted “85-90 percent of this behind us” by Labor Day. It does not appear as though that goal will be reached.
    So far, only Briscoe and the Sun Valley City Council have seen the report.
    “The report or sections of the report have not yet been released to the people mentioned in it,” Briscoe said Thursday.
    The long-awaited audit is intended to tell the full story of the many incidents that have shrouded the city in mystery and notoriety since last fall. These incidents include alleged financial irregularities, a break-in at the fire station resulting in stolen documents and erased files, resignations by staff members, employees’ being placed on both paid and unpaid administrative leave, lawsuits filed against the city, and countersuits filed by the city.
Brennan Rego:

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