Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
July 10, 2012
DALLAS -- Mayor Brian Dalton said he was "very surprised" to learn of potential financial improprieties -- that could lead to criminal charges -- on the part of former City Manager Jerry Wyatt.
He thinks everyone was.
Wyatt took over as city manager in December 2007 -- an eventful month as it turned out. His tenure started with a massive flood. It ended four-and-a-half years later with a shocking resignation.
Accused of financial mismanagement, Wyatt resigned July 2.
Wyatt served as the city's economic development director before taking over for long-serving city manager Roger Jordan. Wyatt rose to the top of dozens of applicants for the city manager's position during the search in 2007. Once in the position, Wyatt received high praise for his job performance from the Dallas City Council in each of his evaluations -- including the most recent in December, adding to the shock.
"They city will move forward," Dalton said just after announcing Wyatt's departure. "We are a strong city. We will heal."
The actions leading up to his leaving the city began a few weeks before his resignation with a report of suspected financial irregularities from city staff, according to Dallas Police Deputy Chief Tom Simpson, who is leading the investigation.
Dallas Police Chief John Teague said he kept his agency on the case at first simply to see if the suspicions were valid.
Police found sufficient evidence to believe there was a problem and took what had been discovered to Dalton, who immediately called a special closed executive session meeting of the council. That was June 22.
On July 2, another closed executive session was held and Wyatt offered his resignation. Dalton said the resignation was given with no conditions, meaning Wyatt will forgo any severance pay.
Simpson said so far the investigation has traced financial improprieties back to September 2011 -- and they may go back further.
He said he is in constant communication with the Polk County District Attorney's Office, which volunteered to work with the Dallas Police Department as an independent agency.
Teague said he didn't have another police department take the case because he believed his office could handle the investigation in an efficient and professional manner.
"We want to make clear that we are above all this," he said, adding people may question the choice as a conflict of interest or suspect an attempt at a coverup. "But it's the exact opposite."
Simpson didn't comment on the nature of what has been found to date, saying information is still being compiled.
"I don't want to go into detail ... until we have everything wrapped up," he said.
However, it seems what has been found is serious.
"I think there is a strong likelihood for criminal charges," Simpson said, noting the final decision would be up to the DA to file charges based on the evidence Dallas PD gathers.
He said he's hoping to complete the investigation within the next week.
"There's a lot of paperwork to go through and ground work to be done," Simpson said.