September 7th, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
State and federal law enforcement agents raided the Muscogee County, Georgia offices of the Department of Family and Children Services this past Wednesday. They hauled off boxes of records and arrested the former acting director of the office and its intake supervisor. Read about it here (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/5/12).
The former director, Deborah Cobb, and child protective services supervisor, Phyllis Mitchell, are charged with destroying, delaying, changing and falsifying child abuse reports, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
At least some of those charges are felonies.
Strangely, the commissioner of the state Department of Human Services either totally misunderstands the nature of the alleged wrongdoing, or was tossing out a red herring for the news media when the Columbus Ledger-Inquirer asked him to comment.
In a statement obtained by The Columbus Ledger-Inquirer, Commissioner Clyde L. Reese III of the state Department of Human Services, which oversees DFCS offices, referred to possible allegations that the Muscogee office may have reduced numbers of abused children entering the state system…
“No DHS employee has any reason or incentive to hide allegations or abuse or neglect in order to lower the number of children and families to be entered into the state system,” Reese said. “DHS will cooperate fully with all federal and state authorities in their investigation.”
That’s right, which might have led Reese to consider the possibility that reducing the number of children in the system isn’t what the two are alleged to have done. After all, how would that serve to increase funding for the agency? It wouldn’t; in fact, it would have the opposite effect. Why would an employee do that? No reason I can see.
So we have to turn to this article to find out what’s actually alleged to have occurred (WRBL, 9/7/12). In fact, the women are alleged to have falsified dates on DFCS documentation to make it appear that cases were handled timely that weren’t. By being handled timely, the agency was able to receive federal money that wouldn’t flow if cases were handled tardily.
To their credit, apparently it was DCFS employees who blew the whistle on their superiors. More arrests may follow as Cobb and Mitchell are now being termed “ringleaders” of others.
What’s unknown at this point is how, if at all, the allegedly falsified records affected children’s well-being or prosecutors’ ability to bring criminal actions against parents or others who harmed children. Of course, falsified records could easily do just that, but the investigation has just gotten under way.
I suppose I don’t need to say that of course this was about money. The two, if they did what they’re charged with doing, plainly wanted to keep those federal dollars flowing, and seem to have stooped to some illegal and possibly injurious methods to make sure they did. If the truth be known, they probably have some superiors of their own who made it clear just what the consequences would be if the flow of greenbacks slowed. We’ll see.