Miami County Children’s Services met Thursday for the first time since the firing of the director. STAFF/STEVE BAKER

Prosecutor on Children’s Services probe: ‘Something needs to change’

The meeting was the first since the board fired Cannon on March 5 during an investigation into public corruption allegations against the agency director. An affidavit and search warrant used to search her office March 1 at the Hobart Center for County Government unsealed Wednesday details allegations of fraud in mileage and other reimbursements.

MORE: NEW DETAILS: Deputies used GPS to track Children’s Services director’s travels

Kendell said he completed a review of the sheriff’s office investigation Wednesday.

“Something needs to change here. It is despicable,” he said, telling agency supervisors attending the meeting the allegations had “nothing to do with you here.”

No charges have been filed against Cannon.

County Commission President Greg Simmons, a former Children’s Services employee, told the board the commissioners support a change in board operations from a five-member board appointed by the commissioners to oversight by the county Department of Job and Family Services. The board would change from an operational board to an advisory board.

Four of five board members attended the meeting. Rochelle Bednarczuk, who is new to the board this year, said the board could not have seen the alleged actions by Cannon. “It is unfortunate, but it is common now,” she said.

MORE: Miami County Children’s Services director fired amid investigation

The board discussed appointing an interim director from among staff members interested, possibly as early as next week, to help with day-to-day operations while the switch to oversight by Job and Family Services is explored and the search for a new director initiated. The procedure for change in oversight would be the board asking the commissioners to approve.

“I don’t want to rush into a relationship, I want to explore options. I think we all want to be smart about it,” board member Cheryl Buecker said.

Appointing an interim director was supported while at the same time meeting with Job and Family Services Director Teresa Brubaker and doing other research.

The prosecutor said the investigation into public corruption increases the need to action.

“Eyes are on us,” Kendell said. “It needs to be expeditious, not rash, but expeditious.”

MORE: Fraud investigation involves Miami County Children’s Services director

Supervisors at the meeting questioned possible change and its impact on services provided the public. 

Scott Altenberger, county juvenile/probate court judge, asked “everybody to take a deep breath. I am not sure if employees would know whether the director was under a board or Job and Family Services.”

Board member Chris Long thanked the agency employees for their dedication. “We are grateful for the staff and team for what you continue to do, and we appreciate it,” he said.

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