Thomas Crowell has been reinstated as chief probation officer for Del Norte County, at least until his criminal case has been resolved.
The county Board of Supervisors unanimously voted in closed session to reinstate Crowell to the full duties of the position he held before he was arrested on suspicion of two counts of embezzlement last November.
He was primarily reinstated because the allegations don't involve something that occurred within the scope of the probation department, they don't involve public funds and the initial felony charges filed were reduced to misdemeanors by the state Attorney General's Office, which is handling the case, said County Administrative Officer Jay Sarina.
All five supervisors were interviewed by the Triplicate on
Wednesday and shared sentiments similiar to Sarina's. They also noted he
has not been convicted of anything.
"I think it's kind of like
getting a speeding ticket. The only reason we took any action at all is
originally we were told they were felony counts, and as it turned out
that's not the case," said Supervisor Gerry Hemmingsen.
Crowell, 46, now is charged with two counts of theft by embezzlement.
disposition is not an automatic dismissal of the office if it's a
misdemeanor," said Sarina, adding Crowell will likely be back in his
office on Monday.
After a brief period on unpaid administrative
leave following his arrest, Crowell was brought back to work for the
county on paid administrative leave in a limited capacity to handle the
county's transition for AB109 - a state-mandated reform to the
California prison system that releases certain eligible inmates to
county supervision following their prison term.
"The bottom line
is that we have somebody charged with misdemeanors not related to county
operations," said Supervisor David Finigan. "There's no reason to
Crowell is alleged to have stolen $400 on two
separate occassions from a bank account belonging to Law Enforcement
Administrators of Del Norte County last September, court documents
The withdrawals from the bank account were discovered in
October and brought to the attention of LEADN's president, sheriff's
Commander Bill Steven, who subsequently questioned Crowell, documents
Crowell told Steven he was having financial problems, court documents state.
from the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office were called in to
handle the matter and discovered Crowell had "gambled about $82,000" at
local casinos from January through October last year, documents state.
Sarina statedthe board's decision was basedon the charges and not any investigative reports.
amount of information that has come out on this one has been extremely
limited, so it's been based on the charges," said Sarina. "When I
attempted to get a copy of the Ramey Warrant I wasn't able to get one."
is comprised of all the local law enforcement agencies, from parks to
Pelican Bay State Prison. It helps provide training to officers and
devises plans to improve service to the community.
Crowell was the vice-president of the association at the time cited in the allegations.
members are required to pay dues, which for most members are either
paid by the local agencies they belong to or reimbursed, said sheriff's
Commander Tim Athey, treasurer for LEADN.
While the money, once paidto LEADN, is no longer considered public funds, the primary sources of those funds aretaxpayers.
County Auditor-Controller Clinton Schaad stated the county hasn't received any billing statements for LEADN in several years.
"We would pay for it, we just haven't had a billing in quite awhile," said Schaad.
Membership dues are directly from the budget of at least some of the agencies, including the Sheriff's Office, Athey said.
Police Chief Doug Plack also stated the dues paid to LEADN comes from his department's budget.
this isn't our money and when they charged it as a misdemeanor I was
surprised," said Supervisor Martha McClure. "I was terribly conflicted
because we have people on probation for crimes like that."
While conflicted in her choice, she stated that people can redeem themselves after getting in trouble.
"People are inherently good I think," said McClure. "We don't always have to go for the jugular."
Reach Anthony Skeens firstname.lastname@example.org.