Upland Employees Targeted In Internal Investigation

(February 20)  An outside investigative firm is conducting what is described as an “administrative investigation” into activities by one or more Upland city employees, the Sentinel has learned.
Norman A. Traub Associates, an organization of former police executives and attorneys engaged in workplace investigations and specializing in probes of public employees, was retained by senior Upland municipal officials to look into what has been alleged to be more than one instance of unspecified misconduct.
Evidence relating to the alleged misconduct was turned over to a Traub Associates investigator, Jeff Love, a foremer police lieutenant who is now an attorney. Love was apparently able to trace the evidence back to at least one city employee.
According to a city memorandum dated January 23 obtained by the Sentinel, the city has initiated an investigation into allegations of misconduct said to have occurred in the last five months of last year and continuing until last month.
“An administrative investigation is currently being conducted into the events which were reported on or about January 6, 2014 for alleged misconduct,” the memo states. “The city has initiated an investigation into allegations of misconduct said to have occurred from August 2013 to January 2014.”
The memorandum, from Stephanie Mendenhall in her capacity as the city’s administrative services director, informs the recipient that he/she will need to submit to questioning as part of that investigation.
“You will need to report to the human resources division on January 28, 2014 at (sic) answer questions relating to this administrative investigation involving possible misuse of city resources,” the memo states.
According to the memorandum, which was delivered to one of the employees suspected of the misconduct, “Jeff Love of Norm A. Traub Associates will be conducting this investigation.  In doing so, he acts with the full authorization of the city. You must cooperate fully and answer all lawful questions fully and truthfully.  You must do so without reservation.  You must obey any lawful order given.”
In addition to being the city’s administrative services director, Mendenhall is also the city clerk and director of human resources.
While the memorandum states the employee is to be allowed to bring his or her own recording device and/or representative to the questioning session, Mendenhall instructs the employee “You are ordered not to discuss this investigation or its subject matter with other current or former employees of the city, except for me or your representative.”
While the memorandum references “misconduct,” it does not specify what the misconduct is and it does not make specific reference to any violation of the law.
It is not clear why city administrators did not rely upon the police department to conduct the investigation. The Sentinel was unable to locate any spending authorization for work by Norman A. Traub Associates nor was a check to that company recorded in the most recent warrant register for the city.
At press time, the Sentinel had been unable to verify if the employee to whom the memorandum was addressed had attended the January 28 interrogation or what conclusion had been reached as a result of the investigation.

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