Osceola County Road Commission employees testify against former manager in perjury case
REED CITY — Three Osceola County Road Commission employees testified on Thursday about fraudulently altering time cards at the request of former manager Cliff Youngs.
Youngs, 42, of Big Rapids, is charged with perjury after police say he lied under oath to a detective during a sworn interview with Michigan State Police detectives in March. On Thursday, Osceola County District Court Judge Susan grant heard the case in a preliminary examination and ultimately bound the case over to circuit court.
First to testify was Gerald Nelson, an OCRC road foreman who said he was asked by Youngs on several occassions in 2009 and 2010 to alter employee time cards. Alterations included adding hours or equipment to certain jobs, or changing the location of a job to correspond with a location the commission was working on using grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.
The FEMA grants were given to the commission in 2009 after tornados caused road and tree damage in Osceola County.
“He said the money was going to stay in-house, that we were not going to let the money go back (to FEMA),” Nelson said.
Gregory Townsend, a prosecutor from the Attorney General’s Office, read portions of the interview Youngs gave to police in March. When asked if he had ordered employees to alter time cards, Youngs’ response was, “Never.” Nelson said that was a lie.
Nelson also was interviewed by police in March, after which he called Youngs to tell him investigators had contacted him.
“His first words to me were, ‘Did you throw me under the bus?’” Nelson said. “My answer was, ‘No, I didn’t think I did. I just answered the questions they asked of me.’”
Mary Sackett, a part-time secretary for the commission, also testified that Youngs questioned her about an interview she had with police. She told him she didn’t want to discuss the interview, but Youngs persisted.
“He told me when this was all over he was going to have to sue people to keep his name good, so he needed to know what I said to tell his lawyer,” she said. “He said he didn’t want to sue me, but he would if he had to. ... I felt very uncomfortable.”
As a secretary, Sackett was responsible for entering time card information from all employees into the county’s payroll system. On at least three occassions, Youngs asked her to change time card information in the computer, but she said she refused.
She also testified to overhearing conversations in which Nelson refused to alter time cards and in which OCRC Clerk Bill Huss argued with Youngs not to alter time cards.
Marvin Nelson, an OCRC employee and brother of Gerald Nelson, also took the stand, saying he had consulted with Youngs on several occassions about using different job numbers on time cards that weren’t for that specified job.
Huss, who now serves as the interim road commission manager in Youngs’ place, testified in Youngs’ defense, saying he was never involved in any conversations about altering time cards and he did not witness Youngs ordering Gerald Nelson to alter time cards. He said he knew some had been changed, but not by whom.
The Osceola County Road Commission will meet hold a special meeting today to determine Youngs’ future with the department. The meeting will begin at 11 a.m. today at the road commission office, located at 4737 Makwa Drive in Hersey.
Youngs remains free on bond and is ordered to have no contact with the witnesses beyond work-related matters.