MANATEE -- A child protection specialist with the sheriff’s office resigned last month after an investigation revealed she documented fictitious information in two reports, one in which she wrote a newborn was “doing fine.”
Allegations of false records against Kelly Wilkes first arose March 11 after a person she reportedly visited Nov. 18 called the sheriff’s office’s Child Protective Investigative Division to ask about the status of the case.
The call revealed Wilkes, who had been with the division for six years, never visited the residence and that the people she had allegedly spoken to in her report were not even in the state that day, according to an internal investigation report.
In her report on the visit, Wilkes said the newborn she was checking on was “doing fine” and she observed a “generally clean and neat” home, where the baby “has a crib, diapers, wipes, clothes, toys, swing, car seat, stroller, and other basic needs.
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“All utilities on; plenty of food/formula, no visible hazards.”
She also stated the child was smiling as the mother held her, according to the report.
In an interview with a criminal investigator on March 16, Wilkes admitted she entered inaccurate information in her report.
Wilkes also said she had every intention of visiting the residence, and added that she was under a lot of pressure to keep her case load below 10 and considered the case to be low risk.
She admitted that she was wrong in her actions, and later replied “No, no, absolutely not,” when asked if she had taken similar action on any other case, the report said.
Wilkes resigned March 17.
On March 29, a similar case surfaced in which Wilkes allegedly visited a home Oct. 27 and had a face-to-face visit with a subject. That person, however, reported that Wilkes never came to the residence, a report said. In her report on that visit, Wilkes gave details about the subjects and referenced conversations.
“I am upset about the fact that we would have one of our investigators falsify a report,” said Sheriff Brad Steube. “When she was confronted with it, she choose to resign.”
Steube said the investigation has been turned over to the State Attorney’s Office and charges against Wilkes are pending.
In her 2010 employee evaluation, supervisors said that despite working just two days a week, she did an “excellent job of bringing down her case load and closing several before they were in excess of 60 days,” according to the report.
Once a CPS worker gets a case, they have 60 days to close it, according to sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow.
Steube said CPS employees are periodically spot checked by their supervisors, and there were no intentions of changing the system.
“You have to believe your employees are doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said.