HELENA (AP) — The state is investigating allegations that the coordinator of the Broadwater County Disaster and Emergency Services was allowed to contract some DES work to his own company, a Justice Department official said.
Division of Criminal Investigations Director John Strandell told the Independent Record (http://bit.ly/1aUfR8L ) on Thursday that he reviewed information from the Broadwater County attorney and said it appears an investigation into Bill Fleiner and Paradigm Communications and Preparedness Solutions LLC is warranted.
Fleiner declined comment other than to say "we should just let the investigation take its course."
A citizen's group has alleged that for a year, the county commission has allowed Fleiner to contract with Paradigm PCPS for DES services. The group said it could not find any public record of what kind of work Paradigm is to do.
The group alleges Fleiner worked part-time for the county for $31 an hour, but drew $90 an hour for work assigned to Paradigm, the IR reported.
Strandell said the FBI also will be involved in the investigation because federal Homeland Security funds were involved. An FBI spokeswoman declined to confirm or deny the agency's involvement.
Fleiner and the county finance officer were placed on paid administrative leave on June 14, an action that one of the three county commissioners is challenging in court.
Commissioner Franklin Slifka filed a complaint in District Court in Broadwater County alleging that commissioners Laura Obert and Elaine Graveley decided during a phone call to place Fleiner and the finance officer on paid administrative leave without giving proper notice of the meeting and while intentionally excluding him from the meeting. He argued the decision did not constitute an emergency and could have been handled at the commission's meeting the following Monday.
Slifka's complaint argues that all decisions made at that meeting should be nullified.
Obert and County Attorney Karla Bosse have declined comment, citing the state investigation.