Report alleges 15 more thefts against Brookings city manager Janell Howard

BROOKINGS, Ore. – John McKinney served on the Brookings city council for four years.

We’re learning from him, the extent of the investigation into Howard and how there are more allegations against her, that have not led to charges.

Brookings city manager, Janell Howard, was put on paid administrative leave for a non-work-related theft charge at the city’s Fred Meyer store.

She was charged with a misdemeanor for theft.

The Curry County District Attorney’s office reduced her charge, to a violation, after she pleaded no contest.

In January, the city council voted to reinstate her as city manager.

Former Brookings city councilor, John McKinney, who served from 2018 to 2022, said there’s more than just one incident involving Howard.

“When I read the extended investigated report by the loss prevention officers, which detailed 15 other accounts in the last 90 days, that hits you right between the eyes too,” he said.

Documents from the DA‘s office, filed by the Brookings Fred Meyer store loss prevention department, show those additional 15 other incidents accusing Howard of theft.

According to the report, the store logged these incidents from April to July of last year, estimating $230 worth of merchandise was stolen.

Examples include Howard scanning a bouquet of flowers for $7.99, but leaving another $18 bouquet in her cart, without ever paying for it.

“I couldn’t fathom how a prudent, reasonable person, which I thought all of us were on council, could come up to the conclusion that she could be reinstated and be an effective city manager,” McKinney said.

The DA‘s office said she was only charged with theft from the one incident in July, when she stole toilet paper and a veggie tray, the other accusations did not lead to charges.

McKinney said the city council reviewed the Fred Meyer and police report in October 2022, but a decision to reinstate Howard was voted on in January.

That’s when McKinney and another council member were no longer there as their terms on the council had ended.

After the city reviewed a report from a private investigator, he believed Howard was in violation of her contract.

“There were six overt acts that were articulated in the Ferreras administration report which all could have qualified for her to be dismissed,” McKinney said.

Brookings Mayor Ron Hedenskog told NBC5 in a statement Wednesday, Howard’s track record as finance manager is spotless and although some city employees disagree with the decision, he said a majority of citizens and city staff support their efforts.

McKinney also tells NBC5 the deputy city recorder, who worked closely with Howard, resigned from her position when she was reinstated.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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