On scrapped metal, county policies and accountability

As of now, Greg Sager appears ready to hold on to his job with the county despite the recent legal fiasco.

Reviewing this case took a lot of time and featured plenty of accusations, not all of which were countered with a response from the accused. What we do know is no charges have been filed, even after Sager — director of Platte County Public Works — initially lied to investigators about scrapping county metal and receiving the check and asked for a lawyer after admitting to at least part of the wrongdoing.

I can’t get over how crazy this whole thing reads.

Former employee, possibly disgruntled over Sager firing him this summer, levies accusations. Despite much of the testimony not being verified, the investigation does reveal possibly unethical practices in public works but also finds no policies actually existed to prevent the actions.

Then, come to find out, Sager did scrap county metal in his name — back in 2014 — but apparently never spent any of the money. About $1,300 was either put into the department’s petty cash box, which wasn’t being monitored for transactions, or kept in his desk.

Based on the documents, almost all of the $1,300 can be accounted for with possibly some leakage from undocumented petty cash transactions. Even the details of the returned money, which came in $100s and $20s didn’t have dates newer than 2013.

So either Sager is really smart and dedicated to finding exact change in time relevant bills or he’s actually being honest. That’s the biggest difference between Sager’s and Platte County treasurer Rob Willard's cases and that of former director of facilities Ken Bozenhardt.

In Willard’s case, he immediately admitted his mistake in a fraudulent wire transfer that cost the taxpayers almost $50,000. He then worked to retrieve the money and eventually paid the remainder back himself.

Bozenhardt, who also admitted to scrapping county metal, used his illegally acquired tax money to build a beer garden for himself. There was clearly never an intent to give back what he took.

Did Sager just make a bad decision, realize he messed up and simply attempt to slowly funnel the money, albeit undocumented, back to the county? Only Greg Sager can truthfully answer that question.

What does bother me is that another transaction, a much smaller one for about $350, does remain a question. Sager asked for an attorney when investigators wanted to ask some more questions about scrap metal transactions.

Again, Sager is the only one who can truthfully answer where that money went.

Platte County auditor Kevin Robinson inventoried county equipment and found it all accounted for despite accusations of improper personal use, and even if the equipment was missing, it appears the county technically never told employees not to use the equipment.

Same goes for the petty cash at public works. Appears that will now be more closely monitored, too.

I’m glad to hear that policies were changed to help deal with this, and it’s scary to think how much goes on in government that can’t be properly accounted until a situation like this arises.

There’s always the phrase “Good ol’ boy system,” and even in modern times, work remains to clean some of that stuff up — to make sure elected officials and hired employees working in government are held accountable.

Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at editor@plattecountycitizen.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.