WALLA WALLA - As it approaches its two-year mark, an investigation into possible financial improprieties at the Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office remains unresolved. However there has been one new development.
Officials say the Federal Bureau of Investigation has joined the probe. Sheriff John Turner said he "reached out" to the FBI after he took office earlier this year and reviewed the case.
Frank Harrill, supervisory senior resident agent with the FBI's Spokane office, confirmed the agency is involved, but said he could not comment on why because the matter remains under investigation.
"Sheriff Turner is accurate in his comments," Harrill said. "There is a joint FBI-Washington State Patrol investigation. But beyond that I cannot say anything more."
The WSP and the state Auditor's Office began an investigation in October 2009 at the request of then-Sheriff Mike Humphreys. At that time, Bob Calkins, WSP spokesman, said, "There has been an allegation of financial improprieties and we have focused on an individual in the Sheriff's Office."
News of the investigation surfaced during a high-profile race for sheriff involving Turner and then-Sheriff's Capt. Bill White. Turner won the sheriff's race in November.
A request to the WSP for any records regarding the investigation has been denied on the grounds the case is under active investigation and nondisclosure is essential to effective law enforcement, said Gretchen Dolan, WSP public records manager.
Regular inquiries by the Union-Bulletin to the Washington State Patrol since the probe came to light have been answered with what is now an almost-routine reply.
"Still under investigation. Thanks for checking." Calkins said in an email last week when asked if there were any developments.
In an earlier email, Calkins said he couldn't comment on if or when any conclusion will be reached in the matter.
"Financial investigations are among the most complicated investigations that any agency can do. All I can tell you at this point is that it's still an active case," he said.