A special investigation by the state auditor’s office has found thousands of dollars that were improperly used or documented in the Woodbine Volunteer Fire Department in western Iowa. Auditor Mary Mosiman says the department’s treasurer requested the investigation, which led to finding the problems with the way the money was handled.
“Thirteen-thousand-745 is considered improper, $92,522 is considered as undocumented, meaning there is not documentation to verify public purpose versus personal expenditure,” Mosiman says. “So, there’s a total of 106,268 identified within our report.” There were thousands of dollars worth of alcohol purchase for the department’s street dance fundraisers between 2009 and 2011. Mosiman says the purchases can by made, but a fire department has to set up a separate auxiliary organization to handle that activity.
“In this case the Woodbine Fire Department has not established a separate legal organization, so the fire department is considered part of the city and therefore the disbursements of the fire department must be authorized by the city council, and they must have a documented public purpose,” Mosiman explains. “So, of the majority of the improper disbursements, 11,730 were for the alcohol.”
Mosiman says there three firefighters found to have made purchases that totaled more than one thousand dollars for gas for personal vehicles and other items for personal use. Mosiman says three people were charged with unauthorized use of a credit card, and one was found guilty. Police reports show firefighter Christopher Waite was charged with unauthorized use of a credit care after video surveillance footage showed eight instances where Waite fueled his or his girlfriend’s personal truck with the fire department’s credit card for a total of 424 dollars. Police say Waite repaid the 424 dollars.
Firefighter Dustin Moores was charged after video surveillance footage showed an instance where Moores put 111 dollars of fuel in his personal truck using the fire department’s credit card. Moores’ told the investigating officer he must have used the department’s card instead of his brother’s card by mistake. Moores’ brother confirmed to the investigating officer he allowed him to use his card to get a cheaper price on gas for his truck. Moores repaid the 111 dollars.
The third firefighter charged was Jason Peterson. According to the investigating officer’s notes, video surveillance footage showed an instance where Peterson fueled his personal truck with the department’s credit card. Peterson admitted to using the department’s credit card to purchase gas 10 times for a total of 520 dollars. According to Iowa Courts On-line, Mr. Peterson was charged and found guilty of unauthorized use of a credit card, an aggravated misdemeanor. Peterson repaid the 520 dollars to the fire department.
Mosiman says the department has taken some steps to address the issues found in her investigation. One step is to put more controls on the department’s credit cards. “The cards are kept in the applicable vehicles, not available in a desk drawer, or available just for anybody to pick up to fill up whenever they want,” Mosiman says. “So they have gone through some of the steps to make sure that they are handling the expenditures for the volunteer fire department appropriately.”
The State Auditor’s report also makes other recommendations to improve the oversight and control of the department’s funds. The department serves the City of Woodbine and the townships of Allen, Boyer, Calhoun, Cass, Douglas, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, La Grange, Lincoln, Magnolia, Morgan, and St. John.
Here’s the full report: Woodbine Fire Department Investigation PDF