Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Manatee sheriff's employee suspended for hiring company

MANATEE — A sheriff’s office employee was suspended for 36 hours after she hired a company without permission to do work for the agency and the had them hire her son for employment, an internal investigation report said.

In a sworn testimony, Valerie Griest, an application server manager, admitted that she failed to inform her supervisor in the Information Technology division prior to enlisting a temporary staffing agency, Synergy One, to assist in a web development project she was managing, the report said.

She also stated she failed to inform her supervisor that her son would complete the web programming project she was supervising. She added she was not trying to be deceitful and secretive when she made her choices, the report said.

According to the investigation, Griest asked Synergy One to do the programming jobs for the sheriff’s website because she felt the department was too understaffed to do it in a timely manner. In a letter written by Greist’s director to the chief inspector in August he stated: “The problem I have with Varlie enlisting the services of a staffing agency is that I was never informed. She has been using the services of Synergy One for this program without my knowledge or approval.”

The letter went on to say he took issue with the employment of her son.

“Had Valerie followed the correct protocol to check whether her son could do work for the agency, I personally would have done all possible to see if there was an avenue. I would have taken the time to see if there was a way of using him without causing a conflict,” he wrote.

Griest testified her intentions for employing her son was soley because he was already well versed in the theory and direction of the website, the report said. However, she did answer “absolutely, yeah,” when asked if she agreed she failed to keep her chain of command informed of her actions.

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