Houston & Peach

Warner Robins employee files may have been compromised during fraud investigation

Warner Robins City Hall
Warner Robins City Hall wcrenshaw@macon.com

Several Warner Robins City Council members say they are worried personnel files may have been compromised during a fraud investigation.

Mayor Randy Toms filed a report with the Houston County Sheriff’s Office in June about “possible criminal misconduct” by Warner Robins employees, according to the incident report.

Capt. Jon Holland said the sheriff’s investigation is about whether one city employee committed fraud against another employee. He did not name the employee but said neither of them work in Human Resources.

While that fraud investigation was underway, some city leaders say someone within the Human Resources Department may have tried to “clean up” some of the documents that should not have been in some people’s files.

City Councilman Tim Thomas is one of several council members who has expressed concerns about what may be happening in the Human Resources Department.

“My concern is that there were things in the files that shouldn’t be there,” Thomas said Friday. “When I met with HR, they had purged or cleaned up half the employee files. I had a problem with that because we had an ongoing investigation.”

Thomas declined to detail how the files may have initially been compromised or who is involved in the fraud investigation. He said he pushed for city employees to have a chance to review their personnel documents to ensure everything was in order.

Personnel files were the topic of a series of emails exchanged between city leaders over the last several weeks.

Councilman Daron Lee, who provided copies of those emails to The Telegraph, suggested closing Human Resources until the investigation is over.

“I am highly concerned again about the integrity of the HR Departments leadership and the security of the entire City of Warner Robins employee files,” Lee wrote June 29.

Thomas and Councilman Clifford Holmes stated they thought temporarily closing the department should be an option.

At the time, Toms responded that he would not shut down the department because of its essential role regarding pay and benefits.

On July 5, Human Resources Director Toni Graham turned over the keys to the cabinets containing personnel files to Toms. Those keys were handled by the mayor, the city attorney and Toms’ executive assistant, Graham said in a July 6 email.

Graham wrote in that email to Toms, the city attorney and interim city clerk that she was concerned the files were “grievously compromised” since so many people had access to the keys.

“I am sure most of the employees would not be comfortable knowing that the keys to their personal and private information have been passed around that many times in less than 12 hours,” Graham wrote. She did not respond to an email about the investigation sent Friday by The Telegraph.

City Attorney Jim Elliott said in an email to Toms and some councilmen that the keys were placed in his locked office. He wrote that he found it interesting Graham was concerned about who had them when the cabinets containing those files had been unlocked for years.

Elliott said Friday that he still has the keys at the request of the City Council.