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October 13, 2012

Ethics Board: Essex Co. clerk, deputy violated ethics rules

County officials to pay fines for trying to sway contract

(Continued)

County Manager Daniel Palmer and County Purchasing Agent Linda Wolf had recommended the contract go to DocCenter of Omaha, Neb., the second-lowest bidder at $57,000 a year.

NO CRIMINAL CONDUCT

In the decision, Provoncha also admitted he used the county computer network for personal use on several occasions dating back to 2009, and that on the Info Quick contract, he should have known Cross was not qualified to manage the procurement process and not properly supervised when she did so.

The Ethics Board said the clerk violated the County Ethics Policy, Policy Manual and Computer Use Policy.

Both Provoncha and Cross agreed to reread the County Computer Use Policy and adhere to its requirements in the future. Both will also have letters of reprimand placed in their personnel files.

Cross said she did not want to specifically comment on the board’s findings, which were that she “sent and received extensive emails with a representative of IQS regarding the RFP and its process, providing to and receiving information from IQS which was not provided to or received by any other bidders, in violation of the Essex County Procurement Policy and the laws of the State of New York.”

An investigation by Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne, appointed special prosecutor in the case, found no criminal conduct, and no charges were brought against anyone.

SAYS UNFAIR

The decision said Cross “admits that she unintentionally failed to follow the County Procurement Policy in her dealings with IQS (and) admits that she should have known her communications with IQS were improper.”

The Ethics Board said she “did unintentionally impart confidential information” about the contract to Info Quick. Cross was friends with an employee of Info Quick, and the emails also reflected that friendship.

The Ethics Board stressed that neither Provoncha nor Cross received any financial or other compensation for their efforts and that Cross has been a county employee in good standing for 34 years. The board said she cooperated fully with the investigation and recommended that she retain her job with the Clerk’s Office.

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