Two Collin County passport offices closed amid federal investigation

The state department is investigating Collin County's two government-run passport offices for allegations of employee misconduct.

The state department says it has evidence that at least one employee has had inappropriate dealings with a private passport service.

Federal officials allege that at least one Collin County employee may have an improper relationship with a passport expediting company. And in defending her offices, the Collin County district clerk is critical of the agency that has oversight over her offices.

Collin County received a letter from the U.S. Department of State Thursday afternoon informing it that its passport offices will remain suspended indefinitely over “new concerns that have arisen about a possible inappropriate relationship between Collin County passport acceptance facilities and private passport/visa expediting companies.”

The state department says at least one passport customer dealing with both a county office and a private company discovered a county employee at one of the private companies, which is not allowed.

The two passport offices are in the courthouse in McKinney and on Park Boulevard in Plano. They were first ordered closed December 21st when the state department alleged the offices failed to follow guidelines and procedures.

Collin County District Clerk Lynn Finley denies anyone in her offices has done anything wrong. In fact, she claims the Dallas passport office, which has oversight, is retaliating against her.

Finley says her officers were shut down right after she says she met with investigators with Diplomatic Security Services. It was a meeting in which she believes suggested changes be made at Dallas Passport Agency that would tighten up the process. She believes that insulted Dallas Passport Regional Director Brittany Williams.

“They don’t answer calls,” Finley said. “They don’t answer emails.”

Finley claims DSS investigators told her they were looking into whether a group had figured out ways to fraudulently acquire passports in parts of North Texas.

“From what I can determine after talking to the Diplomatic Security Services is that they have been investigating a Nigerian gang that has been working in the area about five years,” Finley said.

FOX 4 reached out to Brittany Williams and the Dallas Passport Agency, which resulted in a statement from Washington. It said, “we cannot comment on the suspension of the Collin County passport acceptance facilities at this time.”

The two Collin County passport offices served nearly 40,000 people last year. From the letter the county got, it would seem that they won’t be opening again any time soon.