By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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Costs related to a whistle-blower complaint that grew into a review of Roark Miller's admitted backdating of a building permit were pegged at $66,429 as of midweek last week by the county Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
Another bill has come in from county Human Resources attorney Akin Blitz of the Portland, Ore., law firm Bullard Law that increased the overall bill to $76,209, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brian Wendt said Tuesday in an email response to a public records request by the Peninsula Daily News on legal costs related to the investigation.
“There may be more coming. There may not be,” Wendt said in a later interview of other costs the county might be billed.
The costs now consist of $57,329 to Bullard Law for investigator Ken Bauman's services, $9,780 for Blitz's services and $9,100 for the services of the Silverdale law office of Kenneth Bagwell to represent Roark Miller, the only elected DCD director in the nation.
Bullard Law's report on the investigation is being reviewed by the state Attorney General's Office for possible charges.
It has not been made public.
The report's June 19 cover letter, which the law firm did make public, suggests seven possible charges against Miller: injury to a public record, injury to and misappropriation of a record, offering a false instrument for filing or record and misappropriation and falsification of accounts by a public officer, all felonies; and official misconduct, false report and public officer making false certificates, a gross misdemeanor.
Her actions “directly or indirectly resulted in the alteration, destruction or falsification by backdating Clallam County DCD documents and a reduction of permit fees due from the applicant under circumstances that may have warranted a waiver of the 2013 fee increases but do not appear to constitute a justification or defense for falsification of public records,” according to the cover letter.
Bullard Law's report has been forwarded to the state Attorney General's Office, which may have a decision by Friday on whether Roark Miller should be prosecuted, agency spokeswoman Alison Dempsey-Hall said.
“They are just finalizing a decision,” she said Wednesday.
Bullard investigated Roark Miller on behalf of county Human Resources after a DCD employee alleged Feb. 21 that Roark Miller “seems to be utilizing her power in order to get special privileges that are not granted to the public,” according to the whistle-blower complaint.
Roark Miller said the complaint was related to a misunderstanding over a conversation an employee heard about an inspection of a job site and not recording the overtime.
After Bullard Law completed its investigation, she told the PDN and the Sequim Gazette weekly newspaper that she backdated the permit for the owner of a $614,321 Agnew-area mushroom growing business.
She told the PDN that on Jan. 4, she backdated the permit to Dec. 27 so the owner would not have to conform to Dungeness-area water use rules that went into effect Jan. 1, saying her staff erred in not more quickly processing the permit, which had been submitted months earlier.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.