The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 30, 2014

Manager firing linked to fraud investigator arrest

By Josh Moniz

---- — ST. JAMES — The recent firing of the Watonwan County Human Services director was due to ongoing issues with his job performance and the recent arrest of a county fraud investigator for falsifying work hours in his department, according to a Watonwan County board member.

Rich Collins was fired last week following a performance review by the Watonwan County Board. He served with the county for 23 years, including 18 years as director of the Human Services Department. According to the public data provided by Watonwan County, there were no complaints and no awards in Collin's record.

Watonwan County Commissioner Scott Sanders said Collins was fired in an unanimous vote by the board. He said the decision was a culmination of long-running issues with his management style that resulted in "a loss of confidence about his ability to manage the department." He said the biggest issue with Collin's management was his failure to bring corrective action when employees committed offenses on the job.

He said the arrest of a fraud investigator for falsifying his time sheet in August was the final straw. He said the problem appeared to come out of Collin's failure to supervise his employees and resulted in a reason to address the other ongoing issues.

"We took longer than we should have, but we wanted to be sure in our decision," Sanders said.

Collins was paid out for full time up to Jan. 25 for the settlement of his firing, according to Watonwan County. Media reports from last year indicate Collins had an annual salary of $97,032. He is not eligible for cashing out his accrued vacation or sick leave.