FORT SMITH (KFSM)—Documents show a criminal investigation into the city’s former sanitation director Baridi Nkokheli began in September 2015.
It was prompted by the city auditor, who reported allegations of possible kickbacks from vendors, misuse of travel funds, misappropriation of city property, misuse of sanitation funds and other accusations, which acting city administrator Jeff Dingman redacted.
“Those items weren't necessarily used as reason or justification for the termination, and so on the advice of the city attorney, they were redacted," Dingman said.
Investigators noted in the report there was an “Unmistakable conflict of interest and ethical violation” to ask for and receive a loan from a vendor with which the city does business.
It goes on to state, “It should be noted this allegation is from many years ago and would be far outside the statute of limitations” to file criminal charges.
The eighth page of the criminal investigation conducted by the Fort Smith Police Department is completely redacted.
“As far as what specifically was redacted, I don`t recall exactly what all those redactions are,” Dingman said.
The report also states Sgt. Tony Bowers and the city auditor discussed the fact that Nkokheli had been formally known as Kevin Wesley Kellough, and that he apparently legally changed his name many years ago.
“I think I had known for some time that the name that he was going by here wasn't his given name,” Dingman said, “but I didn't really pay attention, people change their names for different reasons. I didn't really pay attention to why or when or how or anything like that.”
In a deposition conducted by his ex-wife`s divorce attorney, Nkokheli said under oath his birth name is Kevin Wesley Kellough, and he legally changed his name in Houston in 1997.
“I don`t know that was ever made any sort of an issue with the city, not that I`m aware of,” Dingman said.
The auditor told investigators Nkokheli also used the alias Castain Metoyer.
5NEWS has reached out to Nkokheli for comment, but we were not able to reach him.
On Tuesday, we also sent the Fort Smith Police Department a request to release the information in the criminal investigation documents redacted by the city, and they sent us the investigation file in its entirety Wednesday afternoon (March 9).
To see the investigation documents provided by the city, click here.