FINAL `ghost' employee pleads innocent to felony charge

Thursday, August 9th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The last of the so-called ``ghost'' employees who haunted the scandal-ridden Oklahoma Health Department pleaded innocent Wednesday to a charge accusing her of receiving pay for work she didn't perform.

Jamie Lynn Pirrong was released on a $5,000 bond set by Oklahoma County District Judge Noma Gurich. She was the 14th Health Department employee indicted by a multicounty grand jury.

Pirrong, a former health facilities consultant, is accused of one felony count of obtaining money by false pretense. The multicounty grand jury alleged that she cheated the state out of more than $500 by falsely representing that she was providing the services of a full-time Health Department employee from June 1, 1995, through Sept. 30, 1996.

Pirrong allegedly was paid $4,075.44 for 39 days that she was absent from work without taking leave, the attorney general's office said in a news release.

Prosecutor Lisa Goodspeed and defense attorney Ronald Wallace both declined comment.

The 34-year-old Pirrong, of Newalla, is the daughter-in-law of former Deputy Health Commissioner Roger C. Pirrong, who was indicted twice by the same state grand jury.

Jamie Pirrong was fired in September by Jerry Regier, who was acting director of the Health Department at the time.

Jamie Pirrong worked at the Health Department for 13 years, and was earning $30,426 a year when she was dismissed.

``The part of the grand jury investigation dealing with 'ghost' employees in all likelihood has been completed,'' state Attorney General Drew Edmondson said when the grand jury report was released.

Edmondson said he will request that another grand jury be impaneled to investigate other Health Department concerns.