Costs climb to nearly $18,000 as Camden County awaits outcome of investigation

Mitch Prentice
Lake Sun Leader
Camden County Courthouse.

An investigation into threats of violence made to a Camden County commissioner has continued into a third month, resulting in over $18,000 being paid to county maintenance workers involved. According to Second District Commissioner Don Williams, the investigation should wrap up soon, but no official date has been given. 

The investigation began after a confrontation at the county commissioner's building in January. Newly elected First District Commissioner James Gohagan was unable to enter his office that morning after walking into the commissioner's building and being barred from entry by upset members of the county maintenance department. Maintenance workers were allegedly angry over posts that had been made on social media about the condition of the office. 

These maintenance workers, since identified as Melvin Miller and Dean Duran, have remained on paid administrative leave since the beginning of the investigation. In that time, Miller has received payments of $10,593, while Duran has received payments of $7214. These totals were confirmed through a Sunshine request of payroll, which was provided by county Sunshine attorney Aaron Klusmeyer. 

When asked about these payments, Williams responded saying the county is currently in the midst of a secondary, independent investigation initiated by the county with an HR firm. He says that it would be “inappropriate and unfair” to terminate the pair’s pay before investigations are complete. 

Williams’ explanation for the independent HR investigation is as follows:

“An outside independent HR firm was required to perform this particular investigation due to the fact that Mr. Gohagan also had several altercations with the Camden County Human Resources staff as well as the fact that, within the structure of county government, HR is directly under the County Commission,” Williams said.

Williams’ continued, stating that the investigation should be drawing to a close soon. He says that it was his understanding that COVID restrictions have hampered and slowed the investigation. However, when asked to comment on this belief, Gohagan disagreed. He says COVID restrictions are not the reason this investigation is moving as slowly as it is. 

Until investigations are complete, the county will continue to make payments to these workers.