One of the legislators involved in statehouse hearings probing the scandal at a central Iowa job training agency says she hopes the serious charges that top agency managers now face show the legal system works. Representative Vicki Lensing of Iowa City attended Tuesday’s news conference where the indictments connected to the CIETC scandal were announced.
Lensing says legislators were told all along there could be criminal charges, but since it went to the federal level, state officials didn’t know where it would go. "For all the people connected that we heard from and that were in those agencies, I hope this gives them a little bit of relief that the process, in terms of resolving this, is working," she says. Four of the five were charged with using federal money meant for state job training programs to give themselves big bonuses. The other was charged with trying to cover it up.
Lensing says the legal system now has to run its course. Lensing says it sounds like the grand jury found enough evidence to lead to the charges, and while she says everyone is innocent until proven guilty, there seems to be quite a bit of evidence to lead to the charges. Lensing was asked what legislators learned from the whole CIETC problem. Lensing says the state government tried to pass some legislation to address some of the problems and they now need to see what they have in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
The former chief operating officer of CIETC John Bargman, has already pleaded guilty to defrauding the government and trying to cover it up, and Bargman has agreed to testify against the others. Fifty-two-year-old Ramona Cunningham, the former CEO of the CIETC faces 27 charges of fraud ; 67-year-old Karen Tesdell, CIETC’s former chief accountant is facing 26 charges, 52-year-old Jane Barto, former Deputy Director of Iowa Workforce Development is facing two charges, and 57-year-old Archie Brooks, a Des Moines City Councilman who was chairman of the board that oversaw CIETC and who resigned after the scandal broke, is facing 19 charges.
James Vandenberg, a special agent with the Department of Labor was asked about the allegations that involve one-point-eight million dollars. Vandenberg says it is hard to characterize them, but he called the alleged acts a "substantial crime" and said "these set of facts are egregious." Bargman plead guilty before a judge Tuesday, and could see his sentence reduced depending on how much he helps prosecutors. The other four have been issued a summons to appear in court on January 25th.