Miami County investigation into hidden camera closed

The camera recovered from the Miami County HR director's office was spray-painted black, possibly to help hide it in a fake vent. CONTRIBUTED

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The camera recovered from the Miami County HR director's office was spray-painted black, possibly to help hide it in a fake vent. CONTRIBUTED

TROY — An internal investigation that followed a Miami County sheriff’s office investigation into a hidden camera found inside the county Safety Building has been closed.

Miami County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Kendell confirmed the closing without action Thursday, March 11.

“That is true, unless something else would come up, we are pretty much done with it,” Commission President Greg Simmons said of the internal investigation.

When the sheriff’s investigation became public in January, the commissioners said Kendell would handle the internal investigation and speak on their behalf.

The commissioners issued a written statement Jan. 28 in which they said the camera was placed before any of the current commissioners – Ted Mercer and Wade Westfall in addition to Simmons - were in the office. The placement was in 2015, according to what witnesses told investigators.

“We are grateful for the thorough and timely investigation by the Miami County Sheriff’s Office and professional legal opinion of Prosecutor Anthony Kendell in this serious matter,” the commissioners said. “The Miami County Board of Commissioners is committed to provide an environment where all of our employees’ rights are scrupulously honored.”

After reviewing the criminal investigation report, no criminal charges were sought by Kendell who told Detective Lt. Jason Moore in a Jan. 13 letter that the investigation facts so far did not reach a level for criminal prosecution.

There was no evidence found that any conversations were surreptitiously captured by the camera’s microphone, Kendell said. “And since many of the participants in this despicable display of corruption and misuse of power have developed amnesia and/or selective memory, it appears that no criminal charges will be forthcoming unless and until further evidence is developed in this particular matter,” he wrote.

Former county IT Director Matt Watkins told Moore the camera was requested by former Commissioner John W. “Bud” O’Brien in 2015. He allegedly wanted it placed in the office of then Human Resources Director Tamala Hoover because of concerns about possible removal of information in the office.

O’Brien declined comment.

Leigh Williams, former commissioners clerk administrator, told Moore she had “no recollections of conversations regarding the camera” and “never had a conversation” with O’Brien about it.

Others told Moore in interviews that Williams was present during some discussions about the camera. Those witnesses included Chris Johnson, facilities manager; Watkins; and Hoover. Hoover told investigators she didn’t request the camera but was told it was being installed.

The camera was seen in Hoover’s office by Commissioner Simmons and Johnson while they were doing an inventory of Hoover’s office after she was terminated in September.

Simmons went to Sheriff Dave Duchak for an investigation.

Watkins resigned in late December. Williams resigned Jan. 27.

Commissioners said March 11 they are considering hiring a full-time administrator and turning the commission clerk responsibilities over to another employee. The commissioners’ assistant clerk has been handling those responsibilities

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