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Washington County Jail clerk fired in response to spending allegations

4:21 PM, Jan 18, 2013   |    comments
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MACHIAS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- Allegations that two employees at the Washington County Jail grossly exploited funds there has now resulted in one of those workers being fired.

The county's board of commissioners decided to terminate the jail's clerk Karina Richardson following a hearing that lasted close to ten hours on Thursday. An investigation headed by county sheriff Donnie Smith charged that she and the jail's administrator Robert Gross spent hundreds of dollars from the jail's inmate account on themselves.

A report put together by Waterville attorney Peter Marchesi at the sheriff's request argued those purchases were for clothes, books, cell phones and movies among other items.

The inmate account is made of funds generated from the  commissary at the Washington County Jail. The Maine Department of Corrections asks that funds from any jail's inmate account in the state go directly back to benefiting jail inmates.

Before she was fired, Richardson argued before the commission that she never used any county money to buy 'bras and lingerie,' which is what the report found.

Attorneys for both workers also argued that several other people made questionable purchases using money from the inmate account, including the sheriff himself.

"There's so many more players involved that have done way worse than what we were accused of doing," Richardson said following the hearing, "I believe that there's going to be more investigations and there's going to be more people going down."

"The commissioners prior to this hearing have already contacted the attorney general's office," remarked Chris Gardner, who is chair of the Washington County Board of Commissioners, "and we're asking them to conduct a full and thorough review top to bottom of everyone within these walls to ensure whatever took place is brought to light."

The board is taking more time to decide whether to also fire Robert Gross. Sheriff Smith recommended that both Gross and Richardson's careers be terminated based on Marchesi's findings.

The jail administrator admitted he bought a new cell one using money from the inmate account as well as a band booster for his home. His attorney argues Gross needed those items so he could better monitor the jail's inmates from home.

The board is expected to return a decision on Gross at the end of next week.

NEWS CENTER

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