Willden: Anonymous charges about stolen computers are false | NevadaAppeal.com

Willden: Anonymous charges about stolen computers are false

Health and Human Services Director Mike Willden says anonymous letters charging the Welfare Division has done nothing to catch whoever stole 94 new state computers are completely false.

The allegations were printed and reprinted in two columns by Las Vegas columnist John L. Smith Aug. 12 and 14, along with charges criticizing the management and conduct of department heads. Smith’s column ran in Thursday’s Nevada Appeal.

“Unfortunately, unfounded and blatant misrepresentations presented in anonymous letters sent to Mr. Smith were printed before the facts disputing and outright proving these allegations as false were reviewed by Mr. Smith,” said Willden in a letter responding to questions about the charges.

It is, however, true, that 94 computers and monitors worth some $200,000 were stolen from a storage area at the Welfare Division’s Rancho Boulevard office in Las Vegas.

The letter writers charged that the February thefts were never reported and no action was taken by management to investigate or recover them.

Willden, however, said the crime report was filed with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department immediately after the theft was discovered Feb. 12. He presented documentation showing that report followed up Feb. 15 by filing an insurance claim and Feb. 20 with an official request to the Nevada Attorney General’s Office to investigate the crime.

And Willden’s office provided copies of more than two dozen e-mails beginning Feb. 13 and continuing through the end of the month between Willden, Welfare Administrator Nancy Ford and other deputies in her division ordering inventories of division equipment, tracking the delivery of the computers and paperwork from their purchase, following the status of the investigation into the case and directing officials to increase security over the storage area in the Rancho Boulevard building.

Department Public Information Officer Steve George said there are now two locks on that storage area and rules requiring two different persons to open the door.

The letter writers also charged that more than $20,000 worth of bus tokens were taken from Southern Nevada offices without being reported. Willden’s letter says a complete inventory of tokens was conducted and that all but 10 were accounted for, about $300 worth.

One of the final e-mails in the documentation advises Ford on Feb. 28 that because there are no leads in the case, no signs of forced entry and no way to determine when the actual thefts occurred, Metro declined to investigate the case. The matter is now in the hands of the attorney general’s investigative staff.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.