A special investigation by the State Auditor’s office found the improper use of thousands of dollars by a former support specialist with Iowa State University’s Center for Nondestructive Evaluation.

State Auditor Mary Mosiman says the audit centered on Pamela Backstrom, who through her job with Iowa State helped what is known as the QNDE group with its annual conference. The director of the group discovered the problem when Backstrom failed to supply him with information on the conference.

“In January he demanded to see the QNDE bank statements. Miss Backstrom emailed the director, information him that the bank statements were in her office,” Mosiman says. “And when the director went to her office — he found the bank statements as well as her resignation letter — which was effective immediately.”

The director noticed some cash withdrawals in the statements and Mosiman’s office was eventually called in to review everything. “Our report identified a little over $68,000 of improper disbursements and a little over $3,000 of unsupported disbursements for a total impact to QNDE of $71,498,” Mosiman says. “The improper disbursements included cash withdrawals of $61,000 and improper vendor payments of $6,500.”
Backstrom had access to the QNDE account to pay for items associated with the annual conference. Mosiman says it appeared she was instead funneling some of the money to herself.

“We identified 50 cash deposits which totaled a little over $39,000 to Miss Backstrom’s personal bank account. And these deposits closely matched the amounts and the timing of the withdrawals from QNDE’s account. On ten of these occasions, the amount withdrawn from the QNDE bank account was the exact same as the amount deposited to the personal bank and on the same day,” Mosiman explains. “And then we also noted that on 46 of these days her personal bank account had been in a negative position prior to the cash deposits.”

Copies of the report have been filed with the Board of Regents’ Office of Internal Audit, the University’s Department of Public Safety, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Story County Attorney’s Office, and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.