On Friday Sept. 25th, the Raleigh News & Observer broke the news that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is being investigated for various criminal activities from no-bid contracts to nepotism in hiring at the agency during the tenure of Governor Pat McCrory’s appointee Aldona Woz. According to the News & Observer’s reporting, subpoenas were received at NCDHHS on July 28th 2015. Woz resigned seven days later with the usual political speak about spending more time with her family.
The possible crimes being investigated include:
- Big money contracts for high-ranking employees at the state Department of Health and Human Services and for a consulting firm, Alvarez & Marsal, that was hired on a no-bid, $3.2 million contract – a contract that later was expanded to be worth more than $9 million.
- Angeline Sligh, a former manager who supervised the replacement of North Carolina’s Medicaid billing system. Sligh was the subject of NC state audits accusing her of wasting well over $1 million and hiring people with whom she had personal connections. State audits found that Sligh was responsible for $1.6 million or more of wasted taxpayer dollars over a period of three years through excessive pay to temporary employees, paying temp agencies instead of the state’s less expensive in-house service, paying unjustified overtime, and giving holiday pay to ineligible employees. At least 15 people with personal connections to Sligh were hired in her office, including friends, some from the church she attended, and her hairdresser’s sister.
- Les Merritt, a former NC state auditor who was hired by NCDHHS during Woz’s tenure. He was hired to be the chief financial officer for the state’s mental health division after Gov. McCrory took office. During the first 6 months of his contract, Merritt claimed that he worked 200 hours and he was paid $52,000. That pay rate ($260 an hour) made Merritt the highest-paid hourly employee working on a personal services contract in state government that year.
- Thomas L. Adams, served as chief of staff to former DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos for a month, and then received $37,227 in severance pay.
- Joe Hauck, who was a senior adviser to Wos and had worked with her husband’s company, and the Washington, D.C., consulting firm of Alvarez & Marsal, was paid $310,000 in a no-bid contract.
Wos’ owncontract and application as well as “any and all communications” between Wos, Merritt, Adams, Hauck and the Alvarez & Marsal firm are also being checked over. Additionally, copies of all NCDHHS’ job postings, applications, payment records, performance evaluations, emails and records related to state audits, as well as rules for hiring temporary workers and overtime payment that are related to DHHS employees are also being scrutinized.
Thus far none of the targets of this investigation have spoken to the press, nor has the Governor’s office.