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Independent Auditor Uncovers Corruption In OIT

By Greg L | 30 April 2009 | Crime, Prince William County | 21 Comments

The county’s Office of Information Technology recently came under the microscope of an independent auditor working for the Board of Supervisors, and lo and behold, now three employees are under investigation for bid-rigging.  It’s about time this fiscal black hole in the county budget got some scrutiny, and thanks to the Board of Supervisors and in particular Chairman Corey Stewart, there is finally someone investigating potential fraud and abuse in county government that isn’t under the control of County Executive Craig Gerhardt.

Chairman Stewart was a key player in getting this independent auditor position created and filled, and fending off Gerhardt’s furious attempts to have the auditor answer to him rather than answer directly to the Board of Supervisors.  In keeping this auditor independent of Gerhardt’s empire-building, he has produced two major breakthroughs in just a few months.  The first was uncovering the fraud and abuse committed by Gainesville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Richard Bird who had moved his family into a firehouse and used it as his residence.  The second is this discovery of bid-rigging in the Office of Information Technology that may involve the highest levels of leadership in that department.  For years Gerhardt has had internal auditors that never seemed to uncover any abuse, and in only a few short months the Board’s independent auditor has broken two major cases.

Craig Gerhardt should be receiving some pointed questions from our elected officials and county residents about why he so much wanted to make this auditor report to him just as the auditors the county who hadn’t gotten anything done for so many years.  Now that the shround has been breached that has covered how county staff does business, it’s turning out that some of the people who reported to Gerhardt were involved in corruption that may have cost county taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and gone on for years.  It’s very unlikely that Gerhardt was aware of any of this, but the way he’s run county government as a personal fiefdom filled with loyalists absolutely is one cause for not only the corruption and abuse we see here, but such things as staff covering up allegations of sexual harassment in order to protect senior county staffers.

Kudos to the Board of Supervisors and Corey Stewart for their decision to hire an independent auditor and the guts to stand up to Craig Gerhardt when he tried to sabotage it.

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  1. freedom said on 30 Apr 2009 at 1:15 pm:
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    Excellent piece!! I wonder if the auditor was actually selected, interviewed and hired by the BOCS for an audit of the county staff. Good job, auditor and those on the PWC BOCS!! :)

    I also wonder how long it has been since the PWC school board has been audited by an independent, not beholden to them. Audits aren’t fun but they’re so essential, just to keep honest people honest. I’m also wondering if perhaps the BOCS needs to hire another auditor to help Milt Johns & Co ensure that things are kept on an even keel.

  2. AWCheney said on 30 Apr 2009 at 1:23 pm:
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    “I’m also wondering if perhaps the BOCS needs to hire another auditor to help Milt Johns & Co ensure that things are kept on an even keel.”

    That’s how Walts was encouraged to leave Greece, NY…and they’re still trying to clean up the mess there!

  3. Mom said on 30 Apr 2009 at 1:39 pm:
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    “It’s very unlikely that Gerhardt was aware of any of this.”

    If that were the case then he wouldn’t have made those “furious attempts to have the auditor answer to him”. Remember, his or Peacor’s signatures will be all over the contracts and supporting documentation. Given some of the documentation I’ve seen over the last few years, I suspect that once the auditors are done at OIT, Mr. Gerhardt might be more worried about a black-robed authority figure than anyone on the BOCS.


  4. Anonymous said on 30 Apr 2009 at 9:50 pm:
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    Masood Noorbakhsh, the OIT Director has been put on administrative leave and Maneesh Gupta the Information Systems Chief got fired. Someone else too, I don’t recall who. This scandal is at the highest levels of the department, and Gerhardt should be worried.

    The castle walls are crumbling, Gerhardt. You better get out now before they catch you!

  5. Johnson said on 1 May 2009 at 9:28 am:
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    It’s great that this mess is coming undone. What does this say about our government? Are we really that corrupt at all levels? Glousester County is still reeling from Board Member Theresa Altemus and the the Gang of Four. She was booted from the county Republican party and is running for re-election as an independent. Do politicians have any shame at all? These people are seriously trashy.

  6. Anonymous said on 1 May 2009 at 11:10 am:
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    Great job Corey! Finally we have someone there to stand up for the citizens and make sure our tax dollars aren’t getting wasted!!!!

  7. anon said on 1 May 2009 at 3:45 pm:
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    Ah, lets not send the congrats out just yet. This apparently has been going on a long time and it was not Stewart’s “crack” audit team’s discovery from what I understand. Let the facts hit the ground before we crown the king.

  8. Harry said on 1 May 2009 at 7:59 pm:
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    Gerhardt should never have been appoitned “County Executive” he is and has been entirely too chummy with the department heads; if there was bid rigging it is time for the BoCS to terminate him for cause, so he doesn’t get his very lucrative termination package.

  9. freedom said on 3 May 2009 at 10:29 am:
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    OK anon, but just what is it that you “understand,” anyway? :) :)

  10. The Truth Will Prevail said on 3 May 2009 at 12:16 pm:
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    There is a massive sexual harrassment problem in the Planning Office linked to one of the senior staffers. About a dozen female employees have been driven out in the past few months, and Gerhart, Peacor and Griffen are actively covering up the situation to protect the perp. This situation has been thoroughly documented with recordings, complaints filed with HR, multiple witness testimonies and grievances, all in writing. The window is closing fast for Gerhart to deal with the situation or his head will role also. This situation will be a Washington Post, national level news event when the human and equal rights organizations receive all of the documentation and it goes public. The cover-up is clearly linked to both Peacor and Gerhart. If they continue their cover-up rather than fire and possibly prosecute the perp, they will be found just as guilty.

    None of the guilty parties, either the perp or those involved in the cover-up, have any idea of the extent of the documentation, evidence and witnesses that have been assembled and will hit very soon unless some heads role first.

  11. Little Birdie Too said on 3 May 2009 at 2:10 pm:
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    It is happening in Public Works as well from what I hear, something really is rotten in Denmark it seems . . . I may need to re-think my opinion of auditors!

  12. The Truth Will Prevail said on 4 May 2009 at 7:32 am:
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    There’s also other financial shenanigans going on in addition to the problems in OIT, such as staff providing fabricated information to the BOCS to manipulate the tax rate and budget to suit Gerhart’s agenda.

    We have the most corrupt county government in the entire DC Metro area. Only problem is that Gerhart has been extremely good at putting a happy face on all of it up until now.

    The auditors have a tremendous task before them. That’s why Gerhart fought tooth and nail against Corey’s idea of having an independent auditor. He knows everything that’s under the rug to be uncovered. At a minimum, we need to double the auditor’s staff and I suggest creating an independent inspector general’s office to clean up the mess.

    Perhaps Greg could help organize all of us who have evidence and know victims in these situations. Gerhart’s only hope is that we don’t organize and put forward a united front against what he and his senior staff have been doing.

    The vast majority of County employees are good, hard-working people. We need to chop the head off the serpent, namely Gerhart, Peacor, Griffen and a few others to restore integrity and transparency to our County Government.

    The antis should support this as well. If they want to maintain any credibility, I assume they would want to help fight sexual harassment, financial malfeasance, and corrupt government.

    I’m open to helping organize a citizens’ group. We could work through Greg on the condition of anonymity outside the group to protect anyone who might suffer repercussions from Gerhart. Gerhart’s standard operating procedure with anyone who criticizes him is demonize and destroy so we need to take account of that with people who might suffer his retaliation. Is anyone else on board?

  13. U know what i mean said on 8 May 2009 at 10:17 am:
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    Someone might check out the hiring or appointments in public works // fleet maint. division and their contract awarding practaces, something might be going on there. Craig is aware i’m sure!!!

  14. OVerblown said on 9 May 2009 at 11:54 am:
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    A lot of these comments sound like a Oliver Stone conspiracy movie! The County Exec has done a fantastic job in running the government despite the backwards views of the BOS. Just because some employees in OIT are corrupt does not mean the Craig has been covering that and other transgressions up….ridiculous, totally ridiculous.

  15. The Truth Will Prevail said on 11 May 2009 at 3:42 pm:
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    Hi Melissa (OVerblown). Oliver Stone went too far in some of his films, but he hit the nail on the head in “Wall Street” and “World Trade Center.” The public won’t see what’s crawling around under the rocks until they’re turned over.

    I watched Senator Kerry’s hearings on the deteriorating state of the newspaper industry on CSPAN this weekend. One of the unfortunate trends is the dramatic reduction of local reporting and reporters dedicated to covering local government and politics. One of the people testifying stated that now is the golden era to be a corrupt local elected official or bureaucrat with no one watching. We’re certainly seeing that here with the financial and sexual harassment scandals in PWC’s government. We still have a few local reporters around here. Where are they? Are bloggers going to have to expose this mess also?

    If any legitimate reporter wants names of witnesses, documents, recordings and other evidence, please contact Greg and let’s arrange a meeting.

  16. Anonymous said on 11 May 2009 at 5:37 pm:
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    Some should also look into the (good ole boy network )… In the police dept as well some women might be getting a RAW DEAL over there to. Chief dean likes to help his friends out and turn his back to the people who make formal complaints.I think i understand how it works now keep your mouth shut and your fine make waves. YOUR AS GOOD AS GONE.keep up the good work fellas.

  17. Anonymous said on 11 May 2009 at 7:20 pm:
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    Correct me if i am wrong,Does the county have a eeoc official by the name of Patrica wright what is here take on the harassment issues at hand and what has she done to help the problem.It looks like the county attorney are hard at work protecting the guilty.

  18. BGR knows said on 11 May 2009 at 8:07 pm:
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    Morale among county staff is at an all time low, prove it to yourself with a FOIA of the PWC employee surveys of staff the last 6 years and see which departments have the biggest problems according to rank and file staff, bad upper management is a real problem, their vision and values talk is false and insulting.

  19. Anonymous said on 11 May 2009 at 9:25 pm:
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    It’s time for the counties upper management to step up to the plate and come clean with the works and the tax payers. The county will never admit to any wrong doings.But on the other hand firing people fits the budget better.

  20. Bryanna said on 21 May 2009 at 4:04 pm:
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    Gerhardt is intimidating the staff to ensure that no talks. The story goes like this: Contractor goes to cash a $15,000 check from PWC. Bank is suspicious. Manager calls a BoC Supervisor. Then internal audit begins.

    This isn’t the typical DC gov bid rigging scandal. This is a bogus contract that provided people on the inside to rob county government and our tax dollars. The loss is estimated at 8 million dollars and they’re not sure how long it has been ocurring. FBI is investigating. A credible source is needed to go public.

    Chairman’s office has nothing to do with this.

  21. Anonymous said on 22 May 2009 at 4:01 pm:
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    The signs were there from the beginning. Mashood Noorbaksh, the OIT Director came in the door removing people to bring in his crew. Now we know why. Over the years he has damaged so many careers unjustly. Gerhart and Fitzwater let the Department Heads do what ever they want. There is no accountability. Where was Human Resources, where was Finance, where was Purchasing. Any organization should have checks and balances so this sort of thing cannot happen. Managers run the County like it is there personal kingdom. Complaints have been made against many managers but nothing ever happens. if you are not in the inner network you have no recourse. Managers can treat you any way they desire. I hope this incident should open the eyes of the citizens and BOCS to look at all aspects of PWC. What about the whole computer operations division that is being eliminated and the work is being contracted out? I wonder if this is a rip off too.
    What about layoff where no one is upper management is affected?

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