A state audit finds the former executive director of the Benton Development Group used thousands of dollars of the organization’s money to make purchases for herself.

State Auditor Mary Mosiman says Ranae Becker had been laid off from the Benton County economic development organization, but continued working on a volunteer basis. She says board members discovered some issues as they tried to prepare a budget in 2014.

“They did not receive the necessary financial information from Miss Becker. So, some of these board members volunteered to gather these financial records from the Benton Development Group’s office, as well as doing some cleaning and organizing,” Mosiman says. “And while they were doing this, they found some credit card information and credit card receipts in the trash.” Mosiman says the credit card receipts appeared to be for personal items bought by Becker. The auditor’s office was eventually called to check over the situation.

“Our investigation identified $38,689 of improper disbursements and $10,944 of unsupported disbursements, for a total impact to the Benton Development Group of $48,779.” Mosiman says. Some of the money was improper payroll payments, but Mosiman says the rest was improper credit card use.

“She was using the credit card for personal purchases. She had purchases that were at retail and convenience stores. Some of the purchases were for the Benton Development Group, other purchases where at stores like Best Buy, Game Stop, T.J. Max — stores that would have no business transactions for the Benton Development Group,” according to Mosiman. Several receipts were for purchases in Virginia, which were linked to Becker.

Mosiman says they determined that the receipts came during annual trips by Becker to Virginia to see her family. The audit covered January 1st, 2009 through August 31st, 2014.

The results of the audit were turned over to the Vinton Police Department.