A spokesperson for the agency investigating allegations of embezzlement at Parker’s town hall said a total of 12 warrants had been issued in the case since the end of September. Tania Pavlak of the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office said seven of the warrants issued since September 27 were for bank account information. The others were for the town of Parker and the homes of Parker manager Lori Wedemeyer and former employee Jennifer Alcaida.
âFinancial investigations take time to gather evidence, in order to prove wrongdoing, before arresting suspects,â Pavlak said. âNo arrests have been made yet. The investigation is still ongoing. ”
The Yuma County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case after Parker and La Paz County officials concluded that because of those involved, the case should be handled by an agency outside of La Paz County.
A Parker town employee was fired on Friday, September 24, amid unspecified allegations of embezzlement. The Arizona Auditor General’s office interviewed the employee the day before, September 23. In a city press release, it was stated that the employee was dismissed based on this interview and direct communication between the city administration and the employee.
Deputy Auditor General Melanie Chesney told the Pioneer: “Our office cannot confirm or deny any involvement in matters relating to the town of Parker.”
On October 19, search warrants were executed at Parker’s Town Hall and Wedemeyer’s home. Two days later, on October 21, city council placed Wedemeyer on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. City Clerk Amy Putnam will assume the role of chief executive officer until an interim director can be appointed at the next regular city council meeting, which is scheduled for November 2.
âAdministrative leave means Lori is temporarily on leave from her role as chief executive,â Putnam said. âHis salary and benefits remain intact. His leave is indefinite until the Council takes further action.
Administrative leave in government positions in Arizona is covered by R2-5A-B604 of the Arizona Administrative Code. It allows an employee to benefit from paid administrative leave during a state of emergency declared by the governor. There are also two other types of cases where an employee could be put on administrative leave:
“1. In other emergency situations such as extreme weather conditions, fire, flood or malfunction of public or controlled machinery or equipment.
2. To temporarily relieve an employee from duty during the investigation of an alleged wrongdoing by the employee or during disciplinary or termination proceedings, subject to the requirements set out in paragraphs (B) and (C).
Subsections B and C deal with the reporting requirements if the administrative leave exceeds 40 hours of work.
The questions section on a Google search for administrative leave in Arizona offered this explanation:
âUsually though, especially when there is an investigation, companies pay the person on leave as a sign of good faith because there is no proof of guilt yet. Administrative leave is not a punishment or a disciplinary measure, and it should not damage the employee’s record.
The Google page also offered this difference between an administrative leave and a suspension:
âWhere a suspension may or may not be paid depending on the employer you work for and the rules and regulations of the workplace, administrative leave is always paid because you need to be available for work at all times. “