ADAMS COUNTY, Ind. (WTPA21) — The director of the Indiana Department of Child Services office in Adams County reacted Friday to our Digging Deeper report.
In a statement sent to ABC21, local office director Melissa Hayden writes:
“Our agency takes inspector general reports very seriously. We expect our employees to serve Hoosier families and children with honesty and integrity, and we work diligently to hold them to that standard.”
ABC21 made two formal requests for an on-camera interview with Hayden – both were denied. In a response to our second request, a DCS spokesperson typed in an e-mail, “Given the ongoing criminal investigation, we would decline an on-camera interview at this time.”
ADAMS COUNTY, Ind. (WPTA21) – Last month, the Adams County Prosecutor’s Office charged two DCS caseworkers with obstructing child abuse investigations and theft, after two separate investigations by the State Inspector General.
Both employees – who have since been fired – admitted to a special agent that they lied about visiting families they never actually visited.
The Inspector General first investigated Matthias Snodderly back in August, after getting a complaint.
Snodderly’s DCS supervisors suspected him of faking case entries because his reports lacked details. After an internal investigation, DCS fired Snodderly saying he was “unable or unwilling to perform in a satisfactory manner.”
In one case, Snodderly said he interviewed a person who reported child abuse and two outside witnesses. But all three told a special agent they never spoke with a DCS caseworker on the days Snodderly claimed he interviewed them and didn’t even know who he was.
In a second case, Snodderly said he interviewed a child and a sibling separately – each in a private room where others could not hear. (DCS requires caseworkers to interview children separately so they can speak honestly without fear of retaliation from their family). A parent told the special agent that Snodderly interviewed both children at the dining room table in plain sight and within earshot of the rest of the family in the living room. In an interview with the special agent, Snodderly admitted he interviewed both children in a public space, and also confessed he never asked the children about the specific allegations mentioned in the initial complaint to DCS.
In addition to lying about case visits and child interviews, Snodderly is also accused of claiming $102.41 in overtime the Inspector General says he never worked. When pressed by the special agent, Snodderly could not explain his overtime travel pay claims.
About a week after the Inspector General began investigating Snodderly, the same special agent began looking at a second Adams County DCS worker – Ulyssia Richmond.
The Adams County Prosecutor tipped DCS off about Richmond when the mother of a child in an abuse case had not seen a caseworker in three months. When DCS confronted Richmond, she admitted to faking one entry in the electronic case management system and DCS fired her. After her termination, DCS reviewed Richmond’s other cases and found 12 reports or visits they believed might be fake.
The special agent looking into her case found 11 fake entries for face-to-face visits that never happened – six of them in Adams County. One case began in Adams County, but the family moved to Allen County where the face-to-face visits allegedly continued.
Richmond admitted to the special agent she created fake home visit reports “probably seven or eight times” because she was “stressed out,” saying that instead of visiting families, she was either still at the office, helping others with their cases or just went home.
Richmond now faces six counts of Obstruction of a Child Abuse Investigation (all Class A Misdemeanors). She worked as a caseworker for the DCS Adams County Office for more than a year and a half – from Sept. 11, 2017 to March 23, 2018.
Snodderly now faces three counts of Obstruction of a Child Abuse Investigation and one count of Theft (all Class A Misdemeanors). He worked for the DCS Adams County Office for less than one year, from Feb. 26, 2018 to Aug. 7, 2018.