Findings in investigation of former aviation director go to DA’s office

Courtesy of Fort Worth City Hall Facebook page

The results of an investigation into allegations of malfeasance by Former Aviation Director William Welstead have been submitted to the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, the City of Fort Worth said in a news release.

City Manager David Cook terminated Welstead Sept. 9 after an investigation from the Human Resources Department, which revealed a pattern of unethical behavior, and unfair treatment of City employees.

The city said that additional allegations began to surface after Welstead’s dismissal.

“In response to several allegations, I asked the City’s Internal Audit Department to conduct a financial review of the Aviation Department in order to determine the validity of the allegations, to assess the financial impact of Mr. Welstead’s alleged misconduct, and to determine the extent to which the City might be able to recover such costs,” Cooke said. “I also asked the Fort Worth Police Department to conduct a criminal investigation in order to determine whether Mr. Welstead may have committed any crimes in his capacity as Aviation Director.”

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The Internal Audit Department has found evidence that Welstead misappropriated city resources. Internal Audit’s preliminary report estimates the financial impact of these violations at approximately $43,000.

The city said that Fort Worth is recovering these costs for the taxpayers by deducting them from the payment of Welstead’s accrued leave, which otherwise would have been paid upon leaving the city.

Fort Worth will continue to withhold Welstead’s remaining payout pending the conclusion of the investigation and any further allegations that might emerge in the near future. 
The Police Department, in cooperation with Internal Audit, conducted a criminal investigation and has turned over all findings to the District Attorney’s Office.

“Welstead’s actions and behaviors are inconsistent with the city’s organizational values of accountability and ethical behavior,” said Cooke. “The City Manager’s Office remains committed to fostering an organizational culture in which employees are empowered to report unethical and illegal behavior, and in which management responds promptly and effectively to such reports. Recently, the City has taken steps to increase employee awareness of procedures, including ways to confidentially report unethical behavior to proper authorities.”

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The financial review conducted by the Internal Audit Department identified opportunities for the city to tighten internal controls and thereby to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse.
The City Auditor has recommended, and the City Manager has agreed, to implement various additional control measures that pertain to all city departments, the city release said. 
Under the leadership of Interim Director Roger Venables, the Aviation Department continues to manage the City’s three general aviation airports: Alliance, Meacham, and Spinks.
The City of Fort Worth has launched a national search for the next Aviation Director and expects to make a hiring decision during the first quarter of 2021.