Thursday was a sad day for law enforcement. Any time a trusted public servant chooses to violate and betray that trust, it is a bitter sting for all. The fact that Carole Lepiane is a former employee of a prior administration makes the sting none the less for any of us at the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office.
The badge we are privileged to wear is a symbol of public trust. As long as we in law enforcement accept the privilege, accept the responsibility and accept a public paycheck, it’s pretty simple: Be a cop or be a crook, don’t ever be both.
When I became sheriff in January of 2011, I was briefed on the Lepiane investigation that was under way. My three goals immediately became:
- Justice would be served regardless of where the investigation led.
- All stolen money would be returned in full.
- Public trust would be restored in the WWSO by investigating not just a single individual, but all employees and all financial transactions of the Sheriff’s Office.
Thursday justice was served, all stolen money will be returned and I can stand in front of the citizens of Walla Walla County and ensure them every current employee of our Sheriff’s Office is worthy of their trust and had nothing to do with these thefts.
This investigation determined that Ms. Lepiane acted alone. I would not be able to make those statements without the enormous volume of great work done by members of the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Washington State Patrol and state Auditor’s Office.
Due to facts and circumstances known at that time, coupled with my strong desire that all three of the above goals be met, I requested the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office take a look at this investigation. They, along with assistance from the WSP and state Auditor’s Office, did an outstanding job.
The scope, breadth, chronology and volume of transactions that this investigation covered were enormous. I am very grateful, and I believe we all should be grateful, for the extremely competent work and outcome that these dedicated professionals accomplished for our community.
John A. Turner
Walla Walla County Sheriff