Tuntland Calls Defendant Rob Forward

November 10, 2010

Forward is a staff attorney with WSI and director of the special investigation unit.  Tuntland established that Forward's formal training to be an investigator was limited to legal education seminars. 

Forward was aware Long had been assigned the pre-investigation notification assignment on an alleged sexual harassment situation and there had been more than one such situation with Hutchings.  Forward confirmed that Long asked him to come along to interview Hutchings because he didn't get along with Hutchings and that Bjornson delegated the task to him.   Long had a second conversation with he and Bjornson where he asked if either had them had problems with him tape recording the interview.  Forward indicated that he did not and also that he did not attend the pre-investigation notification interview. 

Later, Forward was assigned by Halvorson to do a report regarding the Armstrong complaint of things missing from his desk.  There were three missing items:  an expense receipt with his employee number; a list of his family members' social security numbers; and a folder with a Risk Management report on Brent Edison's termination in 2003.  The other thing that was removed and returned was his journal. 

Forward said Halvorson told him to make a compliance review and make findings as to who had invaded Armstrong's privacy by going into his desk and taking his journal.  Tuntland asked whether an employee in a government office has an expectation of privacy.  Forward said there's no expectation of privacy regarding his employer, but there was regarding other employees. 

Forward said Long's name came up because he had written in his Attorney General whistleblower complaint that he had seen the journal.  He said he started the investigation around the end of October, November 2007.  That it was a separate investigation from Wahlin's, but they worked together. 

Tuntland asked what was so pressing that Wahlin and Forward could not delay their meeting an extra day so Tuntland could be present while they interviewed Long.  Forward replied it wasn't a fair question as Tuntland had been dragging his feet in allowing them to interview Long. 

In Long's allegations of wrongdoing by Blunt and Halvorson, one of the wrongdoers assigned you to investigate the wrongdoer.  Forward, no, I was focusing on the situation with Armstrong's desk. 

Tuntland established that he had asked Long to tape record that interview and Long did put a tape recorder on the desk. 

Tuntland:  How was Armstrong's journal obtained?
Forward:  He said Kay Grinsteinner took it, made copies, and put it back.
Tuntland:  Who made copies?
Forward:  I'm not sure.
Tuntland:  Why copies?
Forward:  Jim indicated he was bothered about negative comments regarding Jim and also open records concerns.
Tuntland:  Was that the secret documents reference?
Forward:  He didn't use the "secret documents" line with me. 

Tuntland established that Forward did not have the journal with him when he interviewed Jim because Forward said it went to someone else, but Tuntland established the journal had been made public by Armstrong.

Forward said Grinsteinner told him she had been looking for an open records violation in the journal and gave him some vague explanation about audit information being leaked from the building and she was looking for the possible source of the leak.  He said Grinsteinner's explanation was that Armstrong talked loudly.  She thought she'd uncovered something at WSI and based on that, she went through his desk with a flashlight. 

Tuntland:  She thought Mark Armstrong was disclosing internal audit information, correct?
Forward:  That's fair.
Tuntland:  Regarding the whistleblower complaint and Long's allegations that "were too numerous to mention", did you attempt to get that document from Cynthia Feland?
Forward:  There was no reason to, there was nothing there regarding Armstrong's allegations.
Tuntland:  You weren't assigned to investigate Jim's allegations of wrongdoing at WSI, right?
Forward:  No.
Tuntland:  Were you ever assigned to investigate allegations of wrongdoing Jim made within WSI?
Forward:  No.

Armstrong cross-examines Rob Forward.  Armstrong established that Grinsteinner and Long told Forward that they Kay had taken the journal from Mark Armstrong's desk.  Forward said Kay would not give him specifics other than it was a violation of open records law and some leak.  The defense attorney then presented Forward's report of 11-07-07, which Long had signed stating that Grinsteinner has "unfettered access to all documents and files".

Armstrong:  He told you Kay Grinsteinner found the journal in Mark Armstrong's office?
Forward:  Yes.
Armstrong:  Quinn testified that Long told him he had taken it out of the drawer.  Does that surprise you?
Forward:  No.  I think the two were trying to justify why they were in that office.  If Jim had been the one, he wouldn't have the audit charter argument.  It was a weak argument versus no argument.

Attorney Armstrong presented an email sent from Forward to BCI's Quinn 11-06-07 wanting to know why Tuntland would not allow them to interview Long and confirming that WSI was handling the investigation.  Quinn had no problem with that and Quinn was invited to sit in on the interview but was not interested. 

Forward testified that he had witnessed interactions between Long and Peltz, that they were sophmoric, and that he had witnessed a May 7th meeting between Halvorson and Long indicating that their interaction had to be cleaned up.  He said Long was interested in who had complained, that Long thought Denise Bachler had, but Halvorson didn't say. 

Forward said when he gave permission for Long to record Hutchings, he didn't understand it would be Nallie and Hutchings, the only two African-Americans in the building. 

Regarding the news conference announcing Blunt's charges from States Attorney Richard Riha, he noted Joel Heitkamp and two other democratic legislators were present. 

After Long was put on paid leave, Forward took over the supervision of Billie Peltz and HR.  He said his relationship with Billie was good, but her relationship with management was not good.  He'd received complaints of lack of customer service, that she was not returning phone calls, and also had problems because of the perceived inappropriate relationship. 

Long's attorney Tom Tuntland again questioned Rob Forward.  Tuntland asked whether Human Resources was understaffed.  Forward didn't know and Tuntland asked if Forward had asked Billie if she needed help to return calls.  He said no, he talked with her about making herself more accessible, to get off the 4th floor and talk with various departments.  He said he'd also received a complaint from a claims director who repeatedly had called Peltz and went to see her in her office.  She was on the cell phone, supposedly with Jim Long. 

Forward talked about what he called "The Ohio Bunch" and how he avoided the executives while they were in place.  The Ohio Bunch was Blunt and anyone he hired at that time, be they from Ohio or not.  

Tuntland:  Dick Riha is a republican, isn't he?
Forward:  I don't know.
Tuntland:  Cynthia Feland is a republican?
Forward:  I thought she was a democrat.

Tuntland:  You said Kay concocted a reason for being in Armstrong's office?
Forward:  No, I said she concocted an idea about the leak of information.

Tuntland established that Forward is an attorney and has a canon of ethics for lawyers, but that Forward was not aware until this trial of a canon of ethics for auditors.  Tuntland showed Forward the language in the internal audit charter that said an internal auditor shall remain independent of any influence inside the organization and also that an internal audit manager would have full access to all property and personnel.  Tuntland established that as an attorney, Forward has a job description at WSI, but WSI was not free to tell him to disregard his canon of ethics.  Forward seemed surprised at reading those guidelines. 

When asked if Forward had called Cynthia Feland to determine whether she had instituted an investigation of allegations inside Long's manifesto, Forward said he wasn't sure but said they had played phone tag.  Tuntland established that after Forward and Wahlin's interview of Long, he asked Long to shut off his tape recorder, then proceeded to cut down Feland and that Forward didn't like Feland. 

Mitch Armstrong then took over questioning.  He asked whether the language in the internal audit charter changed Forward's opinion of her after-hours search.  Forward said, not at all, that paragraph was pretty broad, and taken to logical ends she could do alot.  "If it's so appropriate, why not go into the office in broad daylight in front of Armstrong?"

Armstrong:  Here's the part Tuntland didn't show to the jury.  "If an IAM suspects fraudulent activity, they are to notify board management and the audit committee."  Did Grinsteinner or Long say they notified management before they did it?
Forward:  Kay said the internal auditor is unique and special and she didn't have to do that.

Tom Tuntland then took over questioning. 

Tuntland:  It says there upon discovery of potential fraud issues, so she must discover it first, right?
Forward:  Yes.

Mitch Armstrong had the last word. 

Armstrong:  Did Kay say she took the journal to the board or the CEO?
Forward:  No.  She said she copied it and put it back in the desk and she gave a copy to Jim Long. 
Armstrong:  Regarding the internal audit charter language, Long is inside the organization, isn't he?
Forward:  Correct. 

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