Insider dealings 

DA investigating whether county employee profited from information

The 4th Judicial District Attorney's office is investigating whether an employee at the county Public Trustee's office passed along official information for profit.

District Attorney Jeanne Smith has confirmed that the target of the investigation is Dorenda Willmore, a foreclosure specialist who has worked in the Public Trustee's office since 1996.

"The allegation is that an employee was making a personal profit from using information that was not yet public, that she obtained in her official capacity," Smith said.

Willmore has been placed on administrative leave, said her boss, Public Trustee Holly Williams.

Willmore, whose phone number is not listed, could not be reached for comment. A message relayed to her attorney, via the Public Trustee's office, went unanswered.

According to Smith, the information that may have been illegally disclosed has to do with foreclosures. Such information is highly prized by certain investors, who usually have to wait for the Public Trustee's office to publish weekly lists of homeowners facing foreclosure. The investors flood the desperate homeowners with offers to purchase their homes at rock-bottom prices. They then turn around and resell the homes, often at a hefty profit.

A recent news report about the investigation of Willmore, on KKTV Channel 11, cited a document that purportedly showed Willmore received a $2,100 cut of the profits on one such sale. It also quoted sources who claimed Willmore had approached them about participating in the scheme.

The investigation was opened Oct. 10 at the request of Williams, the public trustee, Smith said. The potential charge against Willmore is misuse of official information, a felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison.

-- Terje Langeland


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