Prosecutor’s office exonerates four individuals named in April audit report.
PHOENIX, September 21, 2018 – On Thursday, September 20, Cole County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Richardson issued a statement clearing former state officials and two current HELP Inc. employees of any criminal wrongdoing in the deployment of HELP’s PrePass® service in Missouri. The full media statement and the prosecutor’s letter to the Missouri Attorney General’s (AG’s) Office were both publically distributed.
“We appreciate the work the Cole County Prosecutor took to thoroughly investigate the allegations and uncover the truth in this matter,” said Karen Rasmussen, Chief Executive Officer of HELP Inc. “We have always believed that all named individuals conducted themselves ethically and honorably and that a proper investigation would bear that out, as it now has.”
The Cole County Prosecutor’s investigation stemmed from a report issued April 26, 2018 by Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway alleging misconduct by two HELP employees, a former HELP board member, and a part-time HELP consultant. All four individuals had served long and distinguished careers in public safety and transportation.
In his letter to the AG’s Office, Richardson described what his office discovered during his subsequent independent investigation, finding that Galloway’s allegations against one of the named individuals “had no truth to them” and that the ethical requirements of Missouri law in fact “were complied with by the four individuals” identified in Galloway’s report.
“As we went through the auditor’s report, we saw it was not based upon a thorough investigation,” Richardson wrote. In referring to Galloway’s announcement that she had turned records over to federal law enforcement authorities, Richardson said, “When the FBI was contacted by this office, the [FBI] agent said they found nothing criminal and that they were going to close their file.” Richardson also noted that no independent investigation had been undertaken by the Attorney General’s Office.
Richardson’s letter specifically refutes the allegations of Galloway’s report and chastises both the AG’s Office and Auditor Galloway for their failure to thoroughly investigate the case before making public accusations against the four identified individuals.
“Not one of the four individuals was ever interviewed by the Auditor or your [AG’s] [O]ffice, although all [four individuals] have claimed to our office they were willing to discuss this matter fully with the Auditor and [AG’s Office],” Richardson said. “All four were interviewed by this office. All four were very forthcoming with any information requested.”
Richardson concluded that his office “found no evidence that any of the four either got a personal gain or cost the state any money by virtue of their work for the state or, after retirement, for HELP Inc.” He emphasized that “There has been no evidence found that any acts done by any of the four constitute public corruption.”
HELP Inc. provides PrePass® services at 19 Missouri weigh stations at no cost to Missouri taxpayers. As of July 31, 2018, 28,825 Missouri-based trucks from 1,630 commercial fleets were enrolled in and qualified for PrePass® bypass. Since the State deployed PrePass® services in 2002 in Missouri, HELP’s $23,148,734 investment in the Missouri PrePass® system has provided 34,737,466 safe bypasses, resulting in significant efficiencies for the State and operational cost savings to the trucking industry of $259,854,412.