Prosecutor won’t press charges against state workers in HELP Inc. conflict of interest audit

September 21, 2018

Greg Grisolano

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A Missouri prosecutor will not press charges related to allegations of conflicts of interest between state agencies and HELP Inc., the parent company of PrePass.

Cole County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Richardson said his office found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing or ethical violations related to the allegations, which claimed officials at the State Highway Patrol and the Missouri Department of Transportation gave preferential treatment to HELP Inc. over its competitor, Drivewyze.

Richardson says his office interviewed witnesses and the four individuals named in an April report from Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway, which first raised questions of a conflict of interest regarding PrePass and state employees who were responsible for Missouri’s weigh-in-motion contracts.

“After that investigation and after due consideration, I have found no probable cause of any criminal violation under Missouri law,” Richardson said in a news release announcing his decision. “Therefore, I will not file any criminal charges arising out of the Help, Inc. investigation…”

The audit revealed that several MoDOT and highway patrol employees sat on the board for HELP, raising questions about their personal motives and incentives in rewarding the contract to HELP.

Shortly after the audit was released, HELP Inc. issued a response, denying any conflict of interest and criticizing the handling of the audit. Galloway’s office in turn handed over the documents to the FBI and to Attorney General Josh Hawley, who recommended Richardson press misdemeanor charges against the individuals.

“We appreciate the work the Cole County Prosecutor took to thoroughly investigate the allegations and uncover the truth in this matter,” HELP Inc. CEO Karen Rasmussen said in a statement issued by the Phoenix-based company on Friday. “We have always believed that all named individuals conducted themselves ethically and honorably and that a proper investigation would bear that out, as it now has.”

Richardson’s letter, which was included as part of the news release sent out by HELP Inc. on Friday, also criticized the handling of Galloway and Hawley’s investigations, calling them incomplete and taking them to task for not reaching out to the employees in question.

Mary Compton, a spokesperson for Hawley’s office says the attorney general “respectfully disagrees” with the decision not to bring charges.

“The Attorney General’s Office stands by our analysis that there was probable cause to file charges against three former public employees,” she said in an email to Land Line on Friday.

A spokesperson for Galloway did not immediately return a request for comment on Friday.