White Collar Villiains: Arkansas DCFS

White Collar Villains: Arkansas DCFS Accused of Cashing In Orphans Xmas Gifts For Their Own Gain


By Chris Parker in Corruption, Lists, fraud
Friday, Jan. 14 2011 @ 9:00AM
From idling road crews to indifferent paper-shuffling bureaucrats, we're used to the government robbing us, but not the kids. Department of Children and Family Services employees in Jonesboro, AR are accused of returning gifts bound for orphans and using the gift cards on themselves. It heads White Collar Villains...

3. Henry Tyler

Children can offer a good cover for stealing, at least that's what 39-year old Henry Tyler apparently thought. He was indicted earlier this month of embezzling $196,000 intended to provide free breakfasts, lunches and snacks for low income children. Tyler did so as head administrator of the L.E.A.D.E.R. Institute, a now defunct Milwaukee, Wisconsin private school that took part in the state's school voucher system. Tyler inflated the number of students allegedly receiving meals.

Further, officials say it owed nearly $500,000 for improperly cashed checks, claimed summer school payments, past payroll payments and other debts when in early 2006 Wisconsin kicked it out of its school choice program for insolvency despite receiving more than $1 million from the state over two years. (Yes, private enterprise can run schools worse than the government does.)

After L.E.A.D.E.R. closed, Tyler moved to Nevada and ran for the state senate last year. Though he won the Republican primary, he was in a heavily Democratic district, and was beaten handily. (Scandal averted!) Charged with mail fraud and money laundering, Tyler faces up to 30 years in prison for the combined charges.

Chris Barringer_opt.jpg
2. Chris Barringer

Possessing a high school photo like this is reason enough to never commit a crime. However, the picture perhaps does offer some clues as to real origin of the trouble Bairdstown, Ohio Mayor Chris Barringer got into with his cellphone, a magic marker and his penis.

The amateur puppeteer did his own rendition of Kukla Fran and Ollie as performed by The Bishop and His Coconuts, after he'd used the marker to draw a big smile on The Bishop. The he took a photo of the intrepid trio with his cell phone and texted it to the teenage children of a couple acquaintances, with the caption, "It's a penis with a smiley face -- and do you want a smiley face on yours?"

He has admitted to doing it, but says it was a joke. The only joke is that picture, apparently provided by an unhappy constituent, courtesy his 1978 yearbook. This is what they mean when they tell you something ends up in your permanent record. Barringer will only face a pair of misdemeanor charges for his pervitude, with a maximum (and very unlikely) sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. A mother of one of the juvenile boys to receive the texts is hoping to have him removed from office, though that may be difficult on misdemeanor charges.

1. Arkansas DCFS

Each year the Department of Children and Family Services in Craighead County Arkansas encourages local volunteers to fulfill the Christmas wishlists of kids residing with Child Youth Services. Dia Sawyer has been participating for years, with her husband, three birth and three adopted children. But her eldest (adopted) son told her they never received the quality or kind of gifts that she was buying, something that troubled Sawyer. So she took a picture of the item and the receipt before wrapping the gifts with the receipt inside, should the family need to take it back for a different size or such. She then took in gifts for 10 children.

One of Sawyer's friends told her about some questionable behavior inside the DCFS offices, where they were putting aside gifts with receipts in piles according to the retailer. When Sawyer's called retailers and had them check the transaction numbers on the receipts she'd cannily photographed, she discovered all of her gifts had been taken back and (because they were bought on credit card) exchanged by DCRFS employees for gift cards which were then used shortly after on things like photo frames, throw pillows, decorative art and accent furniture.

She reported it to the Jonesboro police who are now investigating. Another individual commenting on the story noted that their office used to give to the Craighead County branch. They got a list of kids to sponsor and filled their lists, then asked for more kids. When they got the list some kids' and their lists were repeated. They inquired and were allegedly told -- "we like extra gifts" -- even though each wishlist was specific to the kid, down to the size and color they wanted.

There's another report of similar behavior in Sebastian County, where Arkansas, DCFS officials are accused of pulling aside the expensive gifts provided by Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). The group, which works on behalf of abused and neglected children, had followed up with the children to discover some gifts had never arrived.

Everyone wants -- it's a nature of life, but it's an extremely small person who will, in the season of goodwill and kinship, make off with the charity offered to the least of us, kids who have no one to watch out for them, and must rely on the kindness, quite literally, of strangers. These people should be marched naked through town, because they clearly have no shame.

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