Case Spawns Change in Government

By: Holly Wagner
By: Holly Wagner

It's a case that's already spawning change in the Secretary of State's office.

"I find it alarming and very disturbing," says John Gale, Secretary of State.

Forty-eight-year-old Phillip Colley was arrested last week for theft. Investigators testified in Federal Court, Colley falsified government documents to steal a sum of around $22,000 from a former business partner.

Investigator Teresa Hruza says, "Mr. Colley has some knowledge of how the system worked, he used it to his advantage."

A search warrant filed by a Lincoln Police Officer says Colley went to the Secretary of State's office and filled out documents which allowed him to become a registered agent of three businesses. He allegedly declared himself as president.

The search warrant also says he took the government papers to Cornhusker Bank. Then Colley used them to gain access to those business accounts one of which he was fired from.

Prior to these alleged crimes, Colley was being investigated by the Federal Government for social security and health care fraud.

Gale says, "How can we prevent this? It's not possible to have an FBI check on everyone who walks in the door."

The Secretary of State says he's never seen a case like this. While he calls it an isolated incident, he's not treating it like one.

"These things tend to become copycats. Once someone does it, someone else piggybacks on that, and makes other attempts at fraud," says Gale.

The Secretary of State plans to press charges against Colley. However he won't rely on punishment as the only deterrent.

"We are going to raise the bar," says Gale.

He says this may include sending copies of registered agents to corporations after a change is made. Gale says it could initiate new legislation to stiffen the penalty for these types of crimes.

Right now Phillip Colley is in custody his next court date is Dec. 29.

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