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Crime by Social Worker Excused
February 2, 2008 permalink
A Lompoc California child protection worker, Liann Noble, committed several illegal acts to enter a homeless shelter. Authorities protected her from an attempted firing and reinstated her, confirming that child protection is a lawless enterprise.
Updated Monday, October 09, 2006
Social worker's ‘research' backfires
By Neil Nisperos/Staff Writer
A county social worker who used a false name in a bid to spend an anonymous night in a Lompoc homeless shelter is being investigated by authorities for possible wrongdoing.
Liann Noble, who is based in Lompoc, said she wanted to tell people about child homelessness as accurately as possible, so she checked into the Bridgehouse on Saturday, Sept. 23, with her 10-year-old son under an assumed name.
Staff workers at the shelter quickly learned who she was and asked her to leave. They also called the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.
Sue Ehrlich, head of the Lompoc Housing and Community Development Corp., which runs the shelter, sent a scathing three-page letter three days later to the District Attorney's Office, asking that Noble “be prosecuted for her actions to the full extent of the law.”
Sgt. Erik Raney, spokesman for the Sheriff's Department, said the incident is considered a “suspicious circumstance,” and will be investigated and the results sent to the DA's office. Santa Barbara County Deputy District Attorney Jerald McBeth confirmed that he received Ehrlich's letter, but would not comment on the matter.
Raney said there are two potential violations of criminal law - the presenting of a false government document and false impersonation of another.
However, as of Friday, Noble had not been charged with any crime.
“There needs to be more follow up on this,” Raney said. “One of the issues is apparently a birth certificate was presented in the name of Karen Kee, which is a false name that Liann Noble used. The legitimacy of that document needs to be determined if in fact the name of an actual Karen Kee was used.”
Lompoc Police Sgt. Chuck Strange assisted Noble in gaining access to the homeless shelter using an alias, and faced scrutiny within the Police Department as a result, according to Ehrlich.
Because it is a personnel matter, neither Police Chief Bill Brown nor Strange would say whether Strange was subject to any discipline.
“I knew if the police called, Bridgehouse wouldn't turn the homeless person away. I didn't want to be turned away and I asked if he would call for me,” Noble said. “I didn't know he would be nailed to the cross over it.”
Strange said he chose to help Noble because he thought it was going to be a worthwhile and positive effort that would help increase awareness about homeless in the community.
“Ms. Noble asked me to do this as a friend-to-friend favor and there was really nothing malicious or underhanded about it,” he said. “I just saw this as an opportunity to increase community awareness.”
Noble said she intended to research the issue of child homelessness in order to write a guest commentary for the Lompoc Record, although her plan was never discussed with the newspaper's editors. (The newspaper's ethics policies, which apply to contributors, generally prohibit using false identities.)
The paper published a commentary about social services on Sept. 4 written by Noble as part of the “Forward View” columns that appear on the Opinion page each Monday.
In that column she wrote that a community dialogue was needed about homelessness:
“Did you know that Lompoc has a huge homeless family population and that many don't feel safe in our homeless shelters due to substance users and the seriously mentally ill residing in the same quarters as the children? Many parents choose to live crowded into substandard hotel rooms in town or move from place to place over going to a shelter.”
Noble said she used a false name because she thought they might be reluctant to trust a child-welfare social worker. She said she brought her son along to make it easier “to connect from one parent to another.”
“It was on my own free time and I was not acting as a county employee,” she said. “I was acting as a concerned parent.”
“I just wanted to raise awareness about homeless children and see if we as a community could come up with ideas to make kids' lives a little better,” Noble said. “The whole thing was to try to problem-solve social issues for our town. ... I just wanted to create a forum so we could work to improve the lives of children in Lompoc.”
Ehrlich said she filed the complaint because Noble used false identification to get into the shelter and then took services under a false pretense. Noble's actions were unnecessary, Ehrlich said.
“She could have called and we would have accommodated her,” she said. “She could have told us, ‘I'm doing some research and I'd like to know more about your program. She's never had a discussion with any of our staff about Bridgehouse.”
Ehrlich's letter also complained that Noble endangered a mentally ill resident by giving her over-the-counter medication when she complained about a headache.
“Why did she give the woman cold medicine?” Ehrlich said. “You don't give medicine to people you don't know. This woman was on medication and there could have been a drug interaction.”
Noble said he gave the woman Tylenol Sinus medication. Ehrlich said it was the cold medication Dimetapp.
Neil Nisperos can be reached at 737-1059 or nnisperos@ lompocrecord.com.
Source: Lompoc Record
Judge Rules In Favor of Reinstated County Employee
Thursday, January 31, 2008, By Indy Staff
Judge Thomas Anderle ruled that the County’s Civil Service Commission erred in not citing the evidence that re-instated a fired county worker Liann Noble nearly 18 months ago over the objections of county executives. Noble enjoyed an exemplary record as a child protective services worker, but was terminated after entering Lompoc’s homeless shelter under false pretenses with her son to spend the night and investigate the conditions for an op-ed she was writing.
Source: Santa Barbara Independent