DALLAS — The Dallas County Health and Human Services Department has been placed on probation by state health officials, and now there's a criminal investigation into the alleged falsification of state records.
The actions follow allegations similar to those reported by News 8 five years ago of health department employees being forced to falsify public records.
The Texas Department of State Health Services placed the Dallas County agency on six months' probation following an Inspector General investigation.
Workers in the sexually transmitted disease division were allegedly being forced by their bosses to falsify data being reported to the state.
"I don't know anything that you are talking about," said Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson when asked to comment on Tuesday.
He declined to answer questions in the wake of a troubling revelation by state officials. The head of his sexually transmitted disease division was allegedly directing employees to enter false information into a state database in order to access federal dollars.
A source close to the investigation tells News 8 that employees were falsely adding patient names from the county's health clinic to the sexual disease data files. The employees responsible have been removed from the division, but not suspended or fired.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins confirmed Tuesday that both an internal and a criminal investigation is underway.
"There is due process, and there is both a criminal and an internal investigation," Jenkins said. "I'm satisfied that our people are handling those in an appropriate manner at this time, and we will follow that wherever it leads us."
In 2008, News 8 reported similar allegations in the same department. Former Dallas County employees were complaining they were told to falsify data for AIDS patients in order to keep federal dollars flowing.
"From the top on down, that is highly encouraged to do what you have to do to get the job done,” one former employee told us. “That means to cheat... in so many words, that means to cheat. It goes on a lot, daily."
Thompson denied any wrongdoing back in 2008, and no actions were taken in the wake of that story.
Now, the state has placed Dallas County on six months' probation. The Dallas County district attorney's office would not discuss whether criminal charges are pending.