The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

State official presents report on township audit

 


By RICHARD JENKINS

rjenkins@yourdailyglobe.com

Ironwood Township — The Michigan Department of Treasury delivered its long-awaited report on the discrepancies with Ironwood Township’s 2015 audit to the township’s Board of Trustees Monday.

The department’s investigation — which led to a criminal investigation into former treasurer Jyl Olson-DeRosso’s alleged embezzlement of township funds — included a total of 15 findings regarding the township’s water and sewer, trust and agency and tax collection funds.

The state report shed some light into how the alleged embezzlement wasn’t caught earlier, detailing the lack of records or checks and balances in place on the examined accounts.

Township Supervisor Steve Boyd sought to reassure the overflow crowd Monday, telling the residents the problems with the township’s policies and practices had been fixed and controls are now in place.

“All the things (in the report), we just received today. But when we started here on Nov. 20, I can tell you that every single one of the things (the state recommended) today we’ve already been put in place,” Boyd said. “There’s a lot of things I wish had happened; but one thing we did do, we stopped the bleeding on Nov. 20 — I can tell you that. We’ve put in place all of these (recommendations) she talked about, as well as additional ones, to make sure this doesn’t happen again on our watch.”

Olson-DeRosso, 47, is facing 10 felonies in connection with the embezzlement alleged to have occurred from 2011 to 2016, following her loss to Graser in November’s election.

Olson-DeRosso is charged with five counts of forgery, one count of embezzlement by a public official, refusing to turn over records to the successor treasurer, removal and destruction of public records, using public money for her own use and diversion of taxes or public money by a public official.

The most serious charges against her, the forgery charges, each carry a potential maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

Olson-DeRosso is accused of issuing checks to herself and taking cash funds in the amount of $114,470 from the tax fund and $81,392 from the trust and agency fund — for a total amount of $196,862 in the five-year period between 2011 and 2016, according to Gogebic County Prosecutor Nick Jacobs.

Brenda Gartland — who was assigned to the township’s case and presented Monday’s report — said the state found issues ranging from a lack of documentation for when money was received and where it went, to a failure to reconcile figures between the treasurer and clerks offices. There were also instances where township policies weren’t followed or the township board wasn’t made aware of how money was being used.

Gartland also shed some light on where the approximately $50,000 to $60,000 from the township’s water and sewer funds went. It was this discrepancy that ultimately prompted the board to reach out to the state treasury office.

She told the board approximately $20,000 came from accounts receivable from 2014 that was improperly applied to 2015 as well. An adjustment will be made to the 2015 numbers, Gartland said, to resolve the issue — although this will make the unaccounted-for funds from 2014 even larger.

Gartland said another approximately $40,000 was a discrepancy between what computer records show the township took in and what was eventually deposited into the bank. Gartland said further investigation into where the $40,000 went was outside the scope of the department’s investigation.

Once the account’s ledger is adjusted to account for these two figures, the unreconciled difference is $128, which Gartland indicated was an acceptable amount.

The board agreed to seek bids for a forensic accountant for a more exhaustive examination of the township’s books, but bidding documents needed to be prepared before action could be taken.

 
 

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