State police investigate alleged theft by ODOT workers
State police are investigating potential theft of public funds by three longtime Oregon Department of Transportation employees who worked out of ODOT's regional Maintenance Station on Lawnfield Road in Clackamas.
ODOT announced on Wednesday that an ongoing investigation is still determining how much money may have been stolen and cannot reveal details of the allegations at this time. The state agency identified the three employees allegedly involved as Frank C. Smead, John Wayne Tipton and Autumn Arndt, but noted that none of them have been charged with crimes to date.
ODOT officials say they are cooperating with police and the Clackamas County District Attorney's Office in an investigation expected to take several months.
"The public has placed in us a trust to spend state transportation dollars with integrity," said ODOT Director Kris Strickler. "If proven true, these three employees violated that trust. We as an organization own this, and we are making changes right now to put better monitoring tools in place."
Strickler ordered several internal measures to help "prevent similar incidents." These measures include:
• Repurposing staff in ODOT's Central Authorization Unit to provide more close oversight and auditing of purchases
• Engaging an outside entity to help the department discover vulnerabilities in financial controls and find ways to close those loopholes
• Explore ways to improve the agency's inventory control system
Smead was the Region 1 ODOT landscape manager and started working for the agency on Oct. 1, 1997. He had a monthly salary of $6,683, but has been placed on unpaid administrative leave during the theft investigation.
Tipton, the former Region 1 transportation maintenance coordinator, submitted a letter of resignation effective Feb. 21. An ODOT employee since May 19, 2003, he had been making a monthly salary of $5,056.
Arndt, a former ODOT operations and policy analyst, also reportedly submitted a letter of resignation. Working for the agency since Nov. 1, 2006, she made a monthly salary of $6,415.
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