Clarence M. Kelley & Associates investigates BPU

By JUSTIN KENDALL

Last month, BPU general manager Don Gray announced that an outside firm had been hired to investigate the Kansas City, Kansas, utility company in the wake of chief administrative officer Marc Conklin’s indictment on charges of stealing $400,000.

“We’re continuing to take a hard look at ourselves,” Gray assured residents at the October 15 BPU board meeting.

Gray spoke vaguely, never naming the investigative firm. The Pitch has learned that the firm conducting the investigation is Clarence M. Kelley & Associates, Inc., a Lenexa, Kansas, based “Professional Investigative and Security Consulting Firm” named after the late director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Kansas City, Missouri, chief of police.

CMKA’s Web site boasts of being “the Midwest’s leading security solutions and risk management firm.”

BPU independent counsel Carl Gallagher hired CMKA on October 9, six days after the unsealing of the indictments against Conklin and Rodney Turner, a Wyandotte County attorney who provided legal services for the utility. CMKA is charging the power company $85 an hour to conduct the investigation.

But will the investigation be truly independent? The Pitch has learned that the BPU has had at least a 10-year relationship with CMKA. A review of payments by the BPU to CMKA shows that the utility company has made 35 payments to CMKA totaling $96,603.53 from 1998 to 2008. Already this year, the BPU has paid CMKA twice — $4,875.25 on June 25 and $6,353.23 on August 29 — for services prior to the new contract.

CMKA primarily focused on investigating cases of worker’s compensation fraud. CMKA also investigated an incident at former general manager Leon Daggett’s home, where a bullet was found in the wall. Nothing ever came of that investigation.

“All reports are handled through the human resources department,” a former BPU manager tells The Pitch.

Meaning, CMKA’s reports were handled by Conklin, the indicted member of upper management who managed the BPU’s human resources department until his promotion to chief administrative officer earlier this year.

Click here to see the full list of payments by the BPU to CMKA.

Update: Former BPU general manager Leon Daggett e-mailed me today to fill in the blanks on CMKA’s investigation of the bullet found in his wall.

Someone fired five shots from a 9 mm handgun into his house on May 4, 2003, Daggett wrote.

“The shots missed my wife by five feet,” Daggett wrote. “One bullet went into the chair where I normally sit.”

Daggett added that a police report was filed.

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