Rossys arrested in welfare embezzlement case

Dawndee Rossy

Dawndee Rossy

 

Kenneth Rossy

Kenneth Rossy

The Inyo District Attorney has filed 44 felony charges against former Inyo Health and Human Services Supervisor Dawndee Rossy and her husband Kenneth Rossy in connection with the reported embezzlement of welfare funds. The Rossys were booked into the Inyo County jail Thursday afternoon on numerous charges. They were being held on $500,000 bail each. The amount allegedly embezzled is more than $1.5 million.

In a press release, the Inyo District Attorney said that the Rossys are charged with “grand theft by embezzlement, embezzlement of public funds, grand theft of personal property, misappropriation of public funds by a public officer, welfare fraud, conspiracy to commit grand theft, conspiracy to commit theft of public money, conspiracy to commit welfare fraud, conspiracy to commit identity theft, 31 counts of identity theft, three counts of obtaining money by false pretenses and possession of a controlled substance.”

Off the record sources outside of the Health and Human Services Department said that Health Director Jean Turner had issued a memo to all employees Thursday to say that an arrest had taken place and that the amount embezzled was over $1.5 million. In a press release issued by Inyo County Administrator Kevin Carunchio, he says, “The amount stolen is now estimated at $1.565 million.”

Carunchio said that Rossy was terminated from her job in the Welfare Office on February 8, 2013, “after Health and Human Services officials reported to authorities that she was suspected of embezzling public funds intended to provide assistance to the poorest residents of Inyo County.”

As for the actual arrests on Thursday, reports said that District Attorney investigators assisted by the Inyo Sheriff’s Department arrested the Rossy’s and took them to the Bishop Police Department. They were placed in holding cells, and officers then transferred them to the County Jail in Independence.

It was January 22nd when Bishop Police Chief Chris Carter confirmed that his department had launched an investigation into what appeared to be the embezzlement of funds inside the Inyo Welfare Office in Bishop. Within days, Dawndee Rossy was identified as a “person of interest.”

Officers had served a search warrant at the home of the Rossys in Bishop. At that time, officers arrested Ken Rossy who they said was in possession of a controlled substance.

The Inyo County press release also includes statements by Board of Supervisors Chair Linda Arcularius, who said the Board and County staff have been “shocked and outraged ever since this abuse of position and the taxpayers’ money came to light.”

The release also says that while the DA and police pursued a criminal investigation and prosecution, “County staff began exploring possible strategies to help get restitution. Additionally, staff initiated and continues to work with County departments, State officials and other California counties to fully evaluate how an employee could work around the multiple safeguards built into the system to prevent fraud and identify how these measures might be improved.”

County officials say there have been adjustments to existing processes and the introduction of new safeguards. County Auditor-Controller Leslie Chapman said that the County has maintained good controls but, she said, “It is very difficult to stop a management person in a position of trust and authority from circumventing the system.”

Chapman said the County is making changes in safeguards and “teaching staff how to recognize the signs of fraud with a safe reporting mechanism such as a confidential fraud hotline.”

The Inyo County Administrator ‘s press release follows:

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Kevin Carunchio

Suspects Arrested in Public Funds Embezzlement Case

Independence – Inyo County officials were gratified that the District Attorney filed charges yesterday that will begin the prosecution of a former welfare worker accused of embezzling public assistance funds. The accused employee was terminated from her job on February 8, 2013, after Health and Human Services officials reported to authorities that she was suspected of embezzling public funds intended to provide assistance to the poorest residents of Inyo County.  The amount stolen is now estimated at 1.565 million.

“The Board and County staff have been shocked and outraged ever since this abuse of position and the taxpayers’ money came to light,” said Linda Arcularius, Chair of the Inyo County Board of Supervisors. “The District Attorney’s filing of charges is an important step toward getting justice on behalf of the public and sending a clear message that abuse of public funds will not be tolerated.”

While the District Attorney and the Bishop Police   pursued the criminal investigation and prosecution, County staff began exploring possible strategies to help get restitution. Additionally, staff initiated and continues to work with County departments, State officials and other California counties to fully evaluate how an employee could work around the multiple safeguards built into the system to prevent fraud, and identify how these measures might be improved. These efforts have resulted in adjustments to existing processes, and the introduction of new safeguards. The County is also pursuing new initiatives such fraud detection and reporting training for employees.

“The County is diligent about maintaining good controls, but it is very difficult to stop a management person in a position of trust and authority from circumventing the system,” said Inyo County Auditor-Controller, Leslie Chapman.  “Still, we are making changes to improve our safeguards and teaching staff how to recognize the signs of fraud and give them a safe reporting mechanism such as a confidential fraud hotline.”

The County recognizes and is grateful for the immediate and thorough response from its law enforcement partners in the County and at the City of Bishop.

Questions regarding the details of the case and criminal prosecution should be directed to the District Attorney’s Office.

 

 

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28 Responses to Rossys arrested in welfare embezzlement case

  1. Wayne Deja April 11, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    And with all those charges and the (alleged) theft of funds…..AND without a doubt,knowing they were under suspicion, they STILL were caught with some kind of drugs at their home when the warrant was served….not to bright….

     
    • Joe April 11, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

      Not too** bright…

       
  2. Roy April 11, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    My first thought upon seeing their photos, drugs are involved in this case….After seeing all the charges, and my many years of investigating criminal fraud cases, I can assure you this was a very complex case to investigate. The last case I investigated prior to retirement had a loss of over 3 million and my report was 250 pages long…Took me 9 months to investigate.

    Now the hard part is to convince a jury how the crime was committed when most people can’t even balance their check book….

     
  3. Trouble April 11, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    I thought their yearly budget was only 1.1 million? No wonder people are sleeping in their cars.

     
  4. dm April 11, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    1.5 million?!?!? That seems like a HUGE amount for a small county. I’m curious how much money flows through the Inyo welfare office annually. And more curious about how, exactly, this woman thought no one would notice. Seems like she has a head full of rocks. That’s probably why she’s smiling in her mug shot. Though I suppose she did (temporarily) outsmart a lot of people, so……

    OK. I know, I know. “Innocent until proven guilty”. She’s had over two months (and possibly 1 million dollars) to flee, and she did not. So that could say something about her innocence. Or maybe she’s just planning on spending that million dollars on a really, really good defense team.

     
  5. joe glotz April 11, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    That would be too Wayne. Not to. As in bright

     
  6. Dustdevil April 11, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

    Losers! Embarrassment to society and their families. What a dissapointment to their daughter as well. So if proven guilty, does the state take their property and sell it for restitution? They both should be locked up for a long time and Dawndee being a public official should be sent to State Prison!! Enjoy your mattresses and chicken fried steak now, courtesy of the California (Inyo County) tax payers. Enjoy your withdrawals from Methamphetamine as well!!! Disgrace to society and mankind…..

     
  7. More Info? April 11, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

    Is there any information on when the embezzlement started? Was it going on for 10 years? 5 years? 6 months? That is so much money for Inyo County. I’m struggling to understand how that much money could disappear before it was stopped. Didn’t anyone notice when $50,000 was gone? $100,000? It’s good the county is working on prevention techniques, but really – over 1.5 million before it was stopped!

     
    • Benett Kessler April 12, 2013 at 7:46 am #

      We hope to speak to the DA today for more detail.
      BK

       
  8. Eleanor April 11, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

    That’s her drivers license photo. Not a mug shot.

     
    • Benett Kessler April 12, 2013 at 7:47 am #

      We received both mug shots from the Inyo Sheriff’s Department following the Rossy’s booking at the jail.
      Benett Kessler

       
      • Photoshop April 12, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

        Then both of those “mugshots” were taken @ a DMV office.

         
  9. Trouble April 12, 2013 at 6:49 am #

    Good points dm. Were people turned away because of their actions? Plus I would like to know if the grand jury was involved with any of this? Not that I don’t trust our local DA.

     
  10. Mark April 12, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    Looks like faces of meth

     
  11. dustdevil April 12, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    Right on Mark!! So very sad that two lives could of gotten so twisted. Either because they were under the influence and therefore failed to have logical thinking skills, or, the fraudulent acts were just too easy to pull off. Thats not Inyo County’s fault, thats the fault of the system in general. This likely happens more often then any of us are aware of. Such a huge embarrassment to the employees of the Welfare Department and Inyo County. Employees that trust one another so much and have such great ties and friendships. We may have ll kinds of opinions about the D.A.’s Office “Trouble”, but this will be a lengthy hard fought case for them, and something that Mr. Maillet and his team wont take lightly, a department that works so close to the Social Services Dept.

     
  12. Roy April 12, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    Based on my experience, this crime has probably gone on for some time. It takes a lot of work to cover your tracks when embezzling that amount of money, and a lot of fraudulent paper work would have to be submitted to cover the loss of money…Companies or government agencies should never have a system where one person can be responsible for record keeping, where the chance to steal money is much easier when no one is double checking.

    If guilty, they deserve some serious state prison time and not be allowed to serve a sentence in the County Jail under the states new program of allowing people to serve their sentence in County Jails….10 years sounds good to me but that won’t happen.

     
    • Benett Kessler April 12, 2013 at 9:29 am #

      The District Attorney told me this morning that crimes have been going on since at least 2005.
      Benett Kessler

       
  13. Gazoo April 12, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    The figures work out to $50,000 per identity theft. Maybe she allegedly identified 31 poor families who were too proud (or something) to accept public assistance.

    I assume they’re not related to the large Rossi family of Big Pine.

     
    • dustdevil April 15, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

      No they are not related to the Rossi family in Big Pine. Ken spells his last name Rossy.

       
  14. ferdinand lopez April 12, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    theyre either tweeks or have a very poor diet

     
  15. sierragrl April 12, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    wow…that indicates a serious lack of checks and balances…I’m thankful someone finally noticed something and was willing to speak up!

     
  16. Craig Barrett April 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    Good Job Benett!!

     
  17. Joe April 12, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    I went to high school with Ken and knew him as a “great kid”. I’m disappointed his life took this route.

     
  18. Trouble April 12, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    Since 2005. Wow, they need to fire every fool supervisor she had since 2006! And our local DA!!

     
  19. Mark April 13, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    I was the victim of having $350k embezzled from my business. Although I didn’t agree with how the judge was handling the case at first. In hindsight I can see his goal was to make me the victim whole again. The judge got me back every last cent that was taken. The key was he made the penalty out weigh the crime. 10 years in prison isn’t long enough. It comes out to $165,000 a year which makes embezzlement and going to prison a pretty good business if they hid the money away. The judge also shouldn’t setup some ridiculous payment plan that will never ever make the county whole again and only make the county look like it’s in the money loaning business. Everything they spent that money on needs to be taken from the Rossy’s and held as evidence.

    After being convicted the only way they should be given a light sentence is if full restitution is made.

     
  20. David K April 13, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    How can this go on for that length of time, and for those amounts of money, without periodic audits?? Again, someone’s asleep at the wheel in the administration of Inyo County! This would never have happened when John K Smith was running the County.

     
    • m. Hayes April 13, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

      Wow, you’re old….and uninformed.

       
  21. N.Smith April 16, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    This happened once before – in the 70’s by a woman first name was Marie (sorry can’t remember last name). I think she also was from the “Welfare” department but out of either Indy or Lone Pine. Don’t think she did any jail time and only repaid part of the restitution ordered.

     

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