by Ivan Foley
Greg Sager, who was the subject of a recent criminal investigation, is out as public works director for Platte County.
County officials say Sager submitted his resignation on Thursday.
“He submitted a resignation on Thursday and was going to be out of the office on Friday. So he submitted it Thursday and said ‘I’m done,’” said Ron Schieber, presiding county commissioner.
The position of public works director is a hired employee who reports directly to the Platte County Commission. Sager’s annual salary was $82,043.
County commissioners on Monday named Bob Heim, a veteran employee in public works who has been second in command, as interim public works director, Schieber said.
After conducting an investigation into Sager allegedly selling county scrap metal material for personal monetary gain, the Platte County Sheriff’s Department had sent a probable cause statement to Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd, seeking a charge of stealing against Sager, age 52.
Zahnd declined to prosecute, saying: “In this case, there is no conclusive evidence that Mr. Sager appropriated county property with the purpose to permanently deprive the county of that property.”
The criminal investigation into public works began in early November when a former employee, Bill Manley of Weston, filed a police report. The police investigation eventually focused primarily on the scrapping of metal and where payments for the material had gone.
Detectives ran Sager’s name through what is known as a Leads Online database and found Sager had sold a significant amount of scrap material. On at least two occasions, payments for the scrap had been checks made out to Sager and not to the public works department. Those amounts were $1,357.20 on April 5, 2014 and $327.25 on May 19, 2012.
In an initial interview with police, Sager told detectives he does not remember what he scrapped on those dates. In this first interview, Sager told them he has scrapped metal before but it was not from the public works department.
The next day Sager stopped an investigator who was in the public works office for an interview with another employee and requested to speak further about the allegations. During this second interview, Sager admitted to scrapping county street signs. Sager told police the $1,357 was more than he expected to receive and he was unsure of how to move the money to the right place without losing his job. Sager said he kept what he believed to be $1,000 in his desk with the intention of slowly funneling the money through petty cash.
Investigative documents indicate Sager gave detectives $1,100 in an envelope. The cash was two $100 bills and 45 $20 bills all with serial dates 2013 and prior. The petty cash drawer contained another $194. Sager said the department recently purchased a sound machine for the front door of the office at a cost of about $55, but records of petty cash purchases had not been recorded.
Sheriff’s department detectives requested a third interview with Sager to talk about the 2012 transaction for $327.25 for scrapped metal. Sager initially agreed but later called and canceled the interview, telling detectives he wanted to speak with an attorney.
The sheriff’s department then forwarded the request for the stealing charge against Sager to the prosecutor’s office.
Manley has done multiple interviews with The Landmark in recent months over what he alleges has been inappropriate and potentially illegal conduct by Sager.
While still employed with the county, Manley said he had filed concerns about Sager’s alleged use of county equipment for personal gain with the county human resources director. He says the HR director told him that “nothing can really be done,” that the “directors do what they want/as they see fit.” He says the HR director told him not to approach the county commissioners with his concerns, though Manley said he later advised Duane Soper, then second district county commissioner, about his concerns.
Manley says he was told by the human resources director, Mary Robinson, that she would ask the county auditor to conduct an audit of equipment at the county public works department. Manley says his conversation with Robinson was on a Friday and on the following Monday, the equipment in question was lined up in the middle of the shop floor when employees reported for work, with no explanation as to where it had been.
Manley said he believes Sager had been tipped off about the upcoming equipment audit. When Kevin Robinson, county auditor, showed up to audit the department’s equipment later that week all the equipment was back in place by that time, Manley said.
Manley was later fired in July of 2016.
Sager had spent around a decade as public works director, overseeing the department during a period the road and bridge department was able to successfully implement many transportation improvements in the county, using proceeds from a 3/8th cent sales tax for roads.
“I’m extremely grateful for Greg Sager’s service. It’s because of Greg that we have many improved roads, bridges and intersections that we would not possibly have had otherwise. And I wish him nothing but the best,” said John Elliott, second district county commissioner who took office on Jan. 1