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Health Department probe could lead to criminal charges

The Associated Press - November 2, 2017 2:47 pm

Oklahoma Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A probe of the Oklahoma State Department of Health is being changed to an investigative audit, meaning it could lead to criminal charges.

State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones told The Oklahoman on Thursday that the state attorney general’s office requested the change.

The health department requested an audit last month after Commissioner Terry Cline and senior Deputy Commissioner Julie Cox-Kain reported “a budget and operating cash shortfall” since the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

Cline and Cox-Kain resigned Monday after the Board of Health accused them of financial mismanagement.

Almost 1,500 agency employees are being furloughed without pay one day for each two-week pay period to reduce expenses. The agency previously announced plans to lay off about 250 employees, or 12 percent of its workforce, early next year.

Earlier Thursday, Gov. Mary Fallin has named the director of the state Office of Juvenile Affairs as Oklahoma’s secretary of health and human services.

Fallin said Thursday that OJA director Steven Buck will replace Terry Cline on her cabinet.

Cline resigned earlier this week as both health and human services secretary and as state health commissioner after the state Health Department’s board of directors accused him of mismanaging department finances.

State finance secretary Preston Doerflinger has been named interim health commissioner.

Buck will continue as director of the juvenile affairs office. His appointment as health and human services secretary is pending approval by the state Senate.



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