A special investigation of the South Iowa Area Crime Commission finds the former leader of the organization that serves 15 counties misused its credit cards.

State Auditor Mary Mosiman says her office was called in to investigate the credit card use of former executive director, Matt Murphy.

“Our investigation identified a little over $13,000 of improper and unsupported credit card charges, interest and late fees,” Mosiman says. “The $13,162 of improper charges identified included personal purchases made at convenience stores, retail vendors and grocery stores. And it also included meal costs that exceeded the authorized per diem amount.”

Mosiman says the overall loss of dollars to the commission was well below the amount of improper purchases. “Though Mr. Murphy did provide payment on most of these personal purchases made with the commission’s credit card — the commission did ultimately pay for a little over 1,100 dollars of Mr. Murphy’s personal expenditures,” Mosiman says.

The commission office provides transportation for juveniles to and from the South Iowa Area Detention Service Agency in Montrose, and its office is in Fairfield. It is governed by a 15-member board with a representative from each of the member counties and its office is in Fairfield. She says the commission had rules for using the credit cards and but they allowed the Murphy to break the rules.

“We do want to make sure that government entities have policies in place preventing the use of public resources for personal benefit — and then they must follow those policies,” Mosiman says. “Especially at the top. The executive director should be the one leading those efforts.” Mosiman says the one-thousand dollars in personal expenses that were not reimbursed by Murphy may not seem like a lot, but she says ignoring the rules can open an organization up for more problems.

“For our purposes it’s not the dollar amount, it’s the practice. We want to make sure every government official is using public funds appropriately, and not for personal benefit,” Mosiman says.The organization serves Adair, Davis, Des Moines, Lee, Henry, Jefferson, Keokuk, Mahaska, Monroe, Wapello, Louisa, Poweshiek, Van Buren, Washington, and Wayne counties.

Mosiman says the results of the investigation have been turned over to the Division of Criminal Investigation, the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, and the Attorney General’s Office. She says that is standard practice when a misuse of government funds is identified.