SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – A group of local government leaders is in hot water, after an extensive state audit found evidence of embezzlement, oversight, and misuse of public funds.
The Utah League of Cities and Towns (ULCT) is supposed to be a ‘voice for the people’ on Capitol Hill by lobbying the state, training members, and providing support for the 247 municipalities from across the Utah that make up the group.
After several months of investigating, the Utah State Auditor is laying out strong evidence that a former CFO of ULCT made more than $26,000 dollars’ worth of inappropriate personal purchases on an employee credit card over the span of four years.
“These are things like $1,400 for iTunes, $350 for intimate apparel, approximately $600 at the state liquor store,” State Auditor John Dougall told Good 4 Utah’s Ali Monsen during an interview, Thursday.
ULCT President (and Kaysville City Mayor) Steve Hiatt identifies that former CFO as Michelle Riley, who reportedly resigned from her position back in August – around the same time the group reportedly became suspicious and launched its own internal review.
“As a result of that initial review, we reached out to the Utah State Auditor and asked for their assistance in conducting a comprehensive review, not just of credit card charges but of all league policies and finances,” Hiatt said.
In addition to the embezzlement evidence against Riley, the audit also states that the then Executive Director “knew about various significant performance failings,” but often did not do anything about them and that he showed serious financial misuse, himself.
“We noted approximately $57,000 in personal travel expenses billed to the League. Now, he had a history year after year after year of reimbursing those expenses – he reimbursed about $46,000. He used this as a revolving loan, if you will,” Dougall explained.
Both the Executive Director and the Board Treasurer, who was responsible for reviewing many expenditures, announced their resignation this week.
Meanwhile, the ULCT is busy hiring new employees and rolling out updated procedures.
“It’s a rain cloud. It’s a hiccup. It’s a frustration. It’s a really, really big deal, but so long as we have policies in place, I think from the Board’s perspective, it’s our job to ensure to the public this will never happen again. It will not be repeated,” Hiatt reiterated.
Now, the State Auditor is recommending a criminal investigation into Riley. Dougall says the audit found no evidence that the other employees involved were intentionally trying to defraud ULCT.
Click here for a link to the entire audit.