Oversight Watch: The Sheriff’s Office of Eau Claire uncovers far more problems with its local Department of Human Services than simply a “fantasy budget.”

Jun 2, 2023 | Wisconsin Voices Blog

Andrew Mazza

A note from IRG Hamilton Roddis Fellow Andrew Mazza: 

Eau Claire’s Detective Ryan Greener and Deputy Mike Voelker conducted an in-depth investigation of the Eau Claire Department of Human Services (DHS) after receiving complaints from two board supervisors in 2019 that the department was running on a “fantasy budget”, overspending by $3.3M.

The over five-hundred page report released 5/26/23 consists of a plethora of emails, interviews, and financial records ultimately enumerating 36 main investigative findings. In addition to inconsistencies in financial statements, three of the most concerning findings were that: 

  1. DHS upgraded airfare and hotel stays for its staff when the department was already significantly over-budget. There were also vendor hotel stays and vendor and staff meals paid for with family crisis funds.
  2. DHS disabled safeguards in the DHS fiscal software to alert or prevent a budget overage.
  3. A DHS employee deliberately falsified documents sent to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families regarding the theft from their alternative-to-detention program.
The report ends with a note from Detective Green and Deputy Voelkler stating their investigative duty to their local citizens. “Citizens of Eau Claire County should expect that their complaints will be followed up on. Simply put we followed the facts and evidence, and took actions based upon what the facts and evidence showed.”

The full report can be found on the Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Website under “DHS ECSO Report.”

Resources: Sheriff’s Website & Report.