City Continues to Deny Wrongdoing in Cell-Phone-Theft Scheme

But the case raises ethical concerns.

By Aaron Kase
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Apr. 21, 2010

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City officials continue to deflect responsibility and deny any wrongdoing in regard to eight city employees who used stolen cell phones provided by ex-Division of Technology clerk Mona Lamberson.

PW identified the eight employees last week as Colia Adams-Broaddus and Robin Jones from City Council President Anna Verna’s Office; Tammy Goodman-Byars from Councilman Darrell Clarke’s Office; and David Rosario, David Oates, Rodney Williams, Willie Bell and William Robinson from City Council's Sergeant at Arms Office­.

According to Lamberson’s arrest affidavit, the employees paid cash to Lamberson for the phones and monthly bills. Adams-Broaddus served as a liaison between Lamberson and the others, introducing them to the program and accepting their payments, the affidavit said.

“It’s not city policy to do that. We do not provide city phones for personal use then collect cash for them,” said Joe James, deputy chief information officer for the Division of Technology.

Normally, James said, departments can request phones for their employees for business purposes, in which case bills are paid by the city. If his office finds that calls have been made for personal use, he sends a detailed bill to the employee.

Lamberson was in no way following a city policy or program, he said. “The employee was acting on her own and was convicted of committing a criminal offense.”

However, the other eight employees cooperated with the Inspector General and District Attorney investigations and are not facing any further charges or discipline at this time. The workers were not offered anything in exchange for cooperation, said Deputy District Attorney Curtis Douglas.

“Based upon our investigations we did not feel there was any criminality on their part.”

All eight employees were treated the same, he said, despite Adams-Broaddus’ alleged deeper involvement in the scheme. Any noncriminal investigations, he said, would not be handled by his office.

“The case was done jointly by our office and the Inspector General. If there had been noncriminal aspects, the Inspector General would have handled those matters.”

However, the Inspector General has no jurisdiction to pursue investigations into City Council staff.

Mayor Nutter declined to weigh in on the allegations.

“We respect the DA’s authority to handle the case as he saw fit,” said mayoral spokesman Doug Oliver. “Likewise we respect City Council’s prerogative to make their own decisions on the matter.”

Council President Verna’s office released a statement, saying: “The Council employees believed that they were participating in a legitimate program. When apprised of the investigation, they all provided full cooperation."

Along with Adams-Broaddus and Jones, the five Sergeant at Arms staff members implicated also fall under Verna’s supervision.

“Obviously, the law-enforcement officials did not believe the Council employees had taken part in any criminal wrongdoing,” the statement continued.

Councilman Clarke did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the involvement of staff member Goodman-Byars.

Chief Accounting Officer for Council Anne Kelly-King, who supervises the Sergeant at Arms staff, first approached the OIG about the stolen phones. “There were phones that City Council employees had that had not been obtained appropriately. All the city devices need approval from either me or my staff,” she said.

When asked if the subsequent investigation found any noncriminal misconduct from members of her staff, she said: “Not to my knowledge,” and said that no disciplinary action was being considered at this time.

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