TOP STORY’Guilt by association’

Rachel Cribbs
May 10, 2002
Filed under News

A Bakersfield College Foundation grant writer once was investigated by the FBI for fraud, embezzlement and extortion.

But Michele Bresso, director of marketing and public relations, maintains that all potential employees undergo background checks and only the best candidate is hired for the job.

The grant writer, Adrienne Herd, who once worked for the Kern County Housing Authority, was never charged.

However, according to The Bakersfield Californian, in September 1996 she was investigated by the FBI, the Kern County grand jury and the Housing Authority and placed on paid administrative leave. She later resigned, citing personal reasons.

According to a Sept. 28, 1996, Californian story, she was accused of “hiring four of her friends, funneling housing authority work or money toward private businesses she set up and awarded housing authority contracts to her husband.”

All of which would be conflicts of interest on Herd’s part.

Herd denied all allegations at the time and maintained she was the victim of “guilt by association,” according to a Sept. 26, 1996, story in The Californian.

Herd said she was innocent and the “victim of disgruntled employees or ex-employees out for revenge,” an Oct. 6, 1996, story reported.

Herd declined to be interviewed by The Rip, but she said when she applied for the job as a foundation grant writer she was interviewed by Linda Quinones-Vaughan, the executive director of external relations and administrative services. She also said her background was checked. She referred all other questions to Bresso.

Quinones-Vaughan, the BC Human Resources office and Walter Howald, the foundation director, also referred requests for interviews to Bresso.

Bresso said that Herd was hired as a temporary part-time “professional expert.” According to her contract, Herd receives $19.14 an hour and is classified as a grant writer. Bresso said Herd works to “bring income into the college.”

While Bresso wouldn’t discuss Herd directly, she described the hiring process.

When a potential employee applies for a job at BC, he or she usually meets with a panel of employee volunteers who interview that person and perform the necessary reference and background checks.

Bresso said this process might be “less formal for part-time employees,” she said.

“In any hiring process the references are checked,” she said. “What is essential in our hiring process is that we find the best candidate for a position. We look for a variety of attributes depending on the job. Those attributes include experience, track record, fit. Do they have the knowledge, the expertise, the credentials to do the position? That is true of every job.”

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