by Max Brantley
A news conference is scheduled at 3 p.m. today at the county administration building to announce criminal charges against a former county employee. Embezzlement is the rap.
And I'm thinking that, once the announcement is made, we might get a little more insight into the county's troubled finances of recent years. Or maybe not.
I have confirmation now that the charge is being filed against former county comptroller, Ron Quillin, who left the county not long ago for a bigger job with state human services. (He's now been placed on leave as chief financial officer of the state Medicaid program.) It alleges that he diverted a variety of miscellaneous revenues to his personal use. Nothing like the millions in budget shortfall the county experienced under his financial leadership. But it's cause, at least, for a thorough review of the bigger picture.
UPDATE FROM DAVID KOON:
At the news conference, Sheriff Doc Holladay announced the arrest of former county comptroller Ron Quillen on 16 counts of felony theft of property, two felony counts of forgery, and one misdemeanor count of abuse of public office. Each of the theft counts carries a possible 5 to 20 years in prison, and up to a $50,000 fine. The forgery counts
each carry a possible 3 to 10 years in prison, and up to a $10,000 fine. The misdemeanor abuse of office count could lead to a $500 fine and 90 days in jail.
Holladay said that Quillin misappropriated approximately $42,000 since January 2006. The thefts were brought to the attention of the county by an unnamed employee of the comptroller's office just before the Memorial Day weekend. County Judge Buddy Villines said that none of the money stolen was from general tax revenues, but would only say that the money was from rebates to the county.
Holladay said that Quillin was taken into custody this morning at a "predetermined location" — the Ozark National Bank at La Harpe and Chester. Quillin is currently being in police custody and is being held at the Pulaski County Jail in lieu of what Holladay estimated would be approximately $50,000 bail.
Quillin has been a Pulaski County employee since May 1994. He was comptroller from October 1, 2006 until his departure for a position at the State Department of Health and Human Services on April 30, 2007.
"A person in a trusted position, with knowledge and intent can find a way to break the system — to break into the system," Villines said. "That's what happened."