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State ag employees probably didn't commit criminal offense

Updated:
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A review of practices at the state Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry shows that employees likely didn't commit any criminal offenses, an agency official said Monday.

Last week investigators from the State Auditor's office seized a computer and said a possible investigation could center around documents that may have been altered.

Spokesman Jack Carson confirmed that an unnamed employee was placed on administrative leave Friday while auditors reviewed his computer and records.

The audit focuses on the office of agricultural environmental management services, formerly called the water quality division. That division was created in 1997 to protect soil and water as hog and poultry farms became more prevalent.

State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan said Commissioner Terry Peach asked his office to look at the possibility of altered documents.

Carson said agency officials decided an impartial auditor's review was needed after an employee ``voiced some concerns.''

``We're pretty optimistic that it's going to culminate in no real wrongdoing,'' Carson said. ``It could be some type of a procedural error in filling out the (poultry license) application. It could be a misunderstanding of rules. Those are just possibilities here.

``These are pretty complex records that we're talking about. They've been examined by a lot of different attorneys in lawsuits and legal proceedings, so these aren't things that haven't been looked at before.''
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