Coloring books instead of legal pads are how lawyer Thomas Incontro helps his clients. Incontro is a Guardian Ad Litem and he says, "I have to ask them some difficult questions."
His firm is the voice of children in juvenile court. Incontro says, "I’ve personally represented children that have had broken bones, who are victims of shaken baby."
Incontro's seven attorneys represent up to 1,000 children in this capacity. Incontro explains, "We make recommendation to the judge on children. Do we think they should be unified with a parent or go for adoption."
In the last five years, Douglas County taxpayers paid Incontro Law close to $3 million. A Fact Finders check of Douglas County Register of Deeds records found three Federal and one State of Nebraska tax liens against Incontro totaling about $50,000 in unpaid taxes.
Incontro says his firm had unexpected expenses and payroll withholding taxes fell behind. But the state lien is about to be lifted as paid up and Federal back taxes are on a payment plan. Incontro says, "It isn't any responsibility we're trying to shirk by any means. We’re addressing it. We’re paying it. I have a plan." Incontro says he's been catching up on the unpaid taxes for more than a year.
Douglas County Commissioner Mike Boyle tells Fact Finders a government contractor behind on taxes is concerning but not unheard of. Boyle says what matters is the work getting done for citizens, in this case children.
Incontro said, "Like I tell kids, it’s my job to make sure they're safe." Incontro said his firm has given taxpayers their money's worth and he's paying up his fair share.
Nebraska’s state auditor, Mike Foley, will look into the Guardian Ad Litem program in Douglas County to see if taxpayers are getting their money's worth.
Besides Incontro Law, the Monahan firm has received $1.5 million the last five years. A spokesman declined comment on the Foley audit. Other individual attorneys are paid when there is an overflow of cases.
Douglas County provided Fact Finders with information on Guardian Ad Litem payments to two law firms the past five years.
Incontro Law: $580,650.00 | $587,562.50 | $632,537.50 | $571,987.50 | $583,883.34
Monahan Law: $298,620 | $298,620 | $298,620 | $298,620 | $298,620