Saturday, June 16, 2007

Social Services also overlooked second Deardorff stealing conviction

Our government controls an incredible amount of personal information about all citizens, so it is alarming when we read that these nameless, faceless bureaucrats have abused our trust by taking that information and using it to enrich themselves.

Such was the case with Robin Deardorff, who worked for the Missouri Department of Social Services until this week, when she was arrested on federal charges of fraud and identity theft.

As I noted in the June 14 Turner Report, state officials quickly circled the wagons, protesting that they did not have enough time to investigate Mrs. Deardorff's background before they put her to work. This passage comes from an Associated Press article:

Spokeswoman Sara Anderson said background checks are performed on all employees, but those who don't have direct contact with the public are not screened until after they have been hired.

Anderson said it generally takes a month for background checks for employees who don't have direct contact and eight to 12 weeks for employees who do.

As I noted in my earlier post, it only took five minutes for me to find information that would have kept any sensible person from hiring Mrs. Deardorff for any job that would put her in contact with personal, private information:

A simple check of shows eight listings for Mrs. Deardorff, including seven criminal charges. The oldest charge, dating back to 1993, was for misdemeanor stealing, for which she received five days in jail and was placed on probation.

Two years later, Mrs. Deardorff received 30 days in jail for endangering the welfare of a child, not exactly the type of activity that seems in keeping with the Family Support Division of the Department of Social Services.

The remainder of the criminal charges involve annual charges of driving while revoked from 2003 through 2006, with the last three times involving the use of electronic shackles in lieu of jail time.

In 2005, she also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of passing a bad check.

Today's Ozarks Messenger features the continuing aftermath of the arrests as the governor's office and the Department of Social Services continue to throw brickbats back and forth with the attorney general about how the arrest was handled.

One passage in a letter written by Deborah Scott, the director of the Department of Social Services, is particularly to the point:

"The Department of Social Services seeks to operate with the highest degree of integrity. We have extremely important duties, and we have very strong policies in place regarding confidentiality. The public trust is a sacred thing."

Ms. Scott was referring to the petty turf wars between governmental agencies and, of course, the upcoming battle between her boss, Governor Matt Blunt, and Attorney General Jay Nixon.

If she truly believes the public trust is that sacred, Ms. Scott needs to spend more time figuring out how to keep people like Mrs. Deardorff from working in her department.

A quick check of records under Mrs. Deardorff's maiden name, Robin Sidney, shows yet another conviction. On July 13, 1995, she pleaded guilty to misdemeanor stealing charges and was placed on supervised probation for two years. This was the second time she had pleaded guilty to a stealing charge.

Maybe the public trust is a sacred thing to Ms. Scott, but when she allows people to be in close proximity to our personal, valuable information without even doing a cursory background check to see if she is hiring a convicted thief, then she has violated that public trust.

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