The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Township hires forensic auditor

 


By RICHARD JENKINS

rjenkins@yourdailyglobe.com

Ironwood Township — The Ironwood Township Board of Trustees hired Plante Moran Wednesday to perform a forensic audit on the township’s finances in an attempt to get to the bottom of the township’s financial irregularities — including determining the potential scope of former treasurer Jyl Olson-DeRosso’s alleged embezzlement.

The lower Michigan-based Plante Moran was one of five companies the board considered.

Each company was assigned a letter during the discussions to allow the board members to speak freely without naming the companies.

During the discussion, each board member provided their top two choices — which narrowed the options down to three.

Plante Moran was one of the top two choices for almost the entire board.

“I liked (Plante Moran), only because they have experience in a similar case,” Boyd said, referencing the company’s participation in several similar investigations involving other Michigan townships.

Clerk Mary Segalin praised the company’s use of data mining and algorithms as a potential means to unravel the township’s finances.

Another point in Plante Moran’s favor was the rate of $200 per hour, and not charging for travel costs. The company also said it would provide weekly updates, providing the township oversight to avoid unexpected cost overruns.

The total cost won’t be known until the company completes the forensic audit, but an estimate of between $50,000 and $70,000 was discussed at a previous board meeting.

Boyd told the Daily Globe after the meeting, he plans to have the company initially look at the township’s records going back to 2010, and additional years may be included if major problems continue that far back.

One of the primary purposes of the audit is to determine a total dollar amount Olson-DeRosso is alleged to have embezzled as treasurer — not only for the criminal case against Olson-DeRosso and insurance purposes, but also the civil suit the township filed against her earlier this month.

“We need the forensic audit to get our own books in order, so we actually have numbers we know are correct to work with,” Boyd said at the board’s June 12 meeting. “But also, as we go through the court case, so we have accurate numbers to present there as far as both restitution and exactly what the issues are for the amount of money (allegedly embezzled).”

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

The civil suit — filed June 15 — is seeking “in excess of $1.2 million in damages” it says were the result of Olson-DeRosso’s alleged embezzlement while treasurer. However, this figure includes other costs incurred by the township and isn’t necessarily representative of the amount of money Olson-DeRosso allegedly took.

In other action:

—The board accepted Mukavitz Heating’s bid to replace the furnace at the township hall.

—The board held a closed session to discuss contract negotiations with the union representing township employees, however, no action was taken following the closed session.

 
 

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