County officials are launching an audit of Public Administrator/Public Guardian John Williams that will look specifically at how his office liquidates large estates.

The forthcoming audit, requested by County Supervisor Pat Bates, is the latest in a string of investigations into Williams’ office. Meanwhile, Williams has retained influential political lawyer Phil Greer, who was instrumental in helping Williams lobby the fifth floor last year.

Greer said Monday that Williams himself was calling on county Chief Executive Tom Mauk to audit his operations.

“Williams is very comfortable with how the office is run,” said Greer, who at one point represented each of the supervisors. “Everything is above board and transparent. And he welcomes any and all inquiries into the operations of his office.”

Williams’ handling of conservatorships came into focus last month when his office protested publicly that then Assistant District Attorney Todd Spitzer called the office asking questions about a case the office was handling.

Earlier this year, the county internal auditor, Peter Hughes, examined the manner in which Williams was filling out his timesheets and found no evidence of wrongdoing. In 2009, an Orange County grand jury issued two scathing reports on how Williams’ office operates.

Bates was chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors in December when Williams survived a 3-2 vote by the board to move his office back into the county bureaucracy following the grand jury reports. Bates told Williams publicly that he would be on a short leash following the tight vote.

— NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.

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