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Sonoma County supervisors OK whistleblower hotline for fraud, waste, abuse allegations

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has approved a proposal to launch a whistleblower hotline which employees, members of the public and vendors can use to anonymously report suspected fraud, waste or abuse in the county.

The hotline program will handle, but is not limited to, “missing cash, embezzlement, falsified documents, theft of equipment and supplies, vendor kickbacks, conflict of interest, personal use of county assets, and bribery,” according to a county news release issued Thursday.

Calls to the hotline are not traced, officials said.

“Whistleblowers and protections for whistleblowers help keep government, businesses and other institutions on the right side of the law,” Lynda Hopkins, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, said in the release.

She added, “There is no job more important than protecting the public interest from suspected wrongdoing. I urge any individual with evidence of abuse of authority, danger to public health and safety, or violation of any law, rule or regulation to find the courage to speak up and use this important resource for public good.”

The new hotline will join existing safeguards already in place, including reporting suspected welfare fraud, law enforcement review, insurance fraud, Medi-Cal fraud, child protection, 24-hour emergency mental health and suicide prevention, safety hazards and code enforcement, the release said.

Reports suspecting fraud, waste or abuse may also be made online at Integrity Counts or emailed to countyofsonoma@integritycounts.ca.

County employees may call: 800-921-6840. Members of the public and vendors should call: 800-916-8745.

You can reach Staff Writer Mya Constantino at mya.constantino@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5220. On Twitter @searchingformya.

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