Action demanded on Sheriff's Office probe

County commissioners sent a letter to the state Auditor's Office, asking for information and an accounting of costs.

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WALLA WALLA -- Saying they are "frustrated and incensed" Walla Walla County commissioners have demanded state authorities provide information on a long-running investigation into the county Sheriff's Office.

The probe, which began in October 2009, was initiated by then-Sheriff Mike Humphreys who requested the Washington State Patrol look into possible financial improprieties in the sheriff's office.

Officials have said the probe focused on an individual, but requests for details have been denied on the grounds the matter is still under investigation.

Along with the WSP and the state Auditor's Office, the FBI became involved last year. Since the FBI's involvement, the WSP and Auditor's Office have deferred comment to that agency.

In a letter to state Auditor Brian Sonntag, commissioners said they want a complete accounting of the costs of the investigatory audit. They also demanded to know where the matter stands.

"Walla Walla County government, and its citizens, are owed and deserve some response regarding the status of this matter, which we hereby further request," they wrote.

The letter, jointly signed by Commissioners Greg Tompkins, Gregg Loney and Perry Dozier, was sent Monday.

Commissioners complained that "despite our regular and repeated requests for an update ... this body has received absolutely no information."

"This matter has created much ill-will in the community, and rumors are rampant regarding past employees, by name, causing pain and also affecting the community's trust," commissioners wrote.

"It seems inconceivable that this matter has languished to this extent, with no finalization," commissioners told Sonntag. "The mission of your office, as is provided on the state website, is to hold governments in Washington accountable to its citizens. We have cooperated throughout this investigation and now look to the state Auditor's Office to honor its own commitment to ensure the efficient and effective use of public resources.

"We believe the state Auditor's Office must issue a public statement or an official final or interim report on the matter immediately," commissioners concluded.

Tompkins said Wednesday commissioners decided to send the letter "because at a certain point in time, you have to draw a line in the sand."

"There ought to be a point where the State Auditor says 'We've done what we can do, here's our report,'" Tompkins said. But despite two-plus years, that hasn't happened.

"Truthfully, I thought enough was enough," he said.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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