Distrust in the Delaware County DSS

By Matt Porter

October 4, 2013 Updated Oct 4, 2013 at 7:25 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The foundation of the investigative unit for Delaware County's Department of Social Services could be crumbling.

Jeff Bowie has worked as a DSS investigator and deputy sheriff since 1992. And he's now the department's leader.

But documents recently revealed show Bowie may never have been properly deputized.

The county personnel office has no record he took a civil service exam, and was not appointed off a civil service registry.

Bowie said he has multiple documents that prove he's a full sheriff's deputy.

"ID cards have been signed to me as a deputy sheriff, not a special deputy sheriff.," Bowie said. "For 20 something years I've been on the roster in Albany as a deputy sheriff, not a special deputy or anything else."

Bowie's term as a deputy sheriff was ended on Jan. 1, 2013, according to the Division of Criminal Justice Services.

The DCJS is reviewing documentation from the sheriff on whether Bowie should have been a sheriff's deputy at all.

Bowie requested the Delaware County District Attorney use a special prosecutor to investigate the allegations made against his certification.

"I just find it really strange that all this stuff could be in paper, all the cards and everything else," Bowie said, "And all of a sudden" the sheriff says he's not.

The sheriff's office claims the previous administration gave them no reason to question the arrangement with DSS until they conducted an investigation for their accreditation.

Undersheriff Craig DuMond said they discovered problems with Bowie and former DSS investigator Mark Hamilton.

Hamilton had not been on a police registry, or even taken the required courses at the police academy. As a result, the legalities of his arrests are being questioned.

Hamilton resigned earlier this year due to health reasons.

DuMond said the office proposed letting the qualified DSS investigators become full-time sheriff's deputies to eliminate the oversight problem.

"They traditionally investigate things to a point someone needs to be arrested," DuMond said. "And they call upon law enforcement to assist them."

Bowie would not have been able to retain his police powers because he is too old to take the civil service exam required to qualify.

Instead, DSS Commissioner William Moon moved Bowie and three others to the DA's office where all could retain police powers and work for DSS.

Moon declined to comment on Bowie's credentials.

Town of Delhi supervisor Peter Bracci, who's also chairman of the county's social services committee, said he trusts Bowie to uphold the law.

"I don't have access to his records. I don't want to," Bracci said. "But I'm being told he is fully qualified, meets all the requirements of the law."

The fate of the investigative unit could be in the hands of the board of supervisors.

Both the social services and legislative committees are discussing the arrangements with DSS investigators.

The public safety committee is also discussing the situation separately.

"The county is looking at this, and we don't feel there's been any improprieties," Bracci said. "However, we take any allegation seriously and we are looking at everything being alleged."

Town of Sidney supervisor Bob McCarthy is a member of the public safety committee.

He questions the influence of DSS on the board of supervisors.

"The reason that it's happened is because social services is such a huge part of our government financially," McCarthy said. "And they're reportable to nobody."

He said the department, especially Moon, needs to be held to a higher level of accountability to the board.

"Social services has acted like this in every situation," McCarthy said. "He has his own little feudal barony there."

Moon said in a statement the members in question will now be in the DA's office as permanent full-time investigators, according to the 2014 budget proposal.

He said that should resolve any questions of who has the final oversight over the investigative unit.

(This story is the second part of a two-part investigation)