The director of the parks and recreation department in Fairfield admits he misused a city credit card — and a special investigation by the state auditor’s office finds Derik Wulfekuhle made more than $28,000 in improper purchases over a seven-year period.
State Auditor Mary Mosiman says the parks and rec director was using public dollars for personal benefit. “When the city administrator became aware of it, I was very pleased that he acted on it instantly,” Mosiman says.
Wulfekuhle resigned from the job in March of last year. The special investigation notes Wulfekuhle told city officials he thought the city credit card was like “free money.”
“That was a specific quote that we felt was important to be made known because that’s exactly what we want to avoid any government official, public official from thinking,” Mosiman says.
Auditors found the parks and rec director used the City of Fairfield’s Visa card to buy about $5000 worth of iTunes games, music and ringtones. Wulfekuhle told the city administrator he was addicted to a video game called “Clash of Clans” and was using city money to play it. Mosiman says as she looked over the report, those purchases raised her curiosity.
“What in iTunes costs $49 to $99 and can be purchased in so many consecutive days? There was at least one of the days that I know that he had two purchases of that dollar amount,” Mosiman says.
Mosiman’s office has released three other special investigations of alleged mishandling of public money this week. Mosiman says she hopes each is an example to other public officials in the state.
“It can happen very easily in your own entity if there’s not oversight,” Mosiman says.
One of Mosiman’s most frequent recommendation is to make sure at least two officials or employees are signing off on checks and regularly reviewing financial records.
Jefferson County Attorney Tim Dille said charges have now been filed against the former parks and recreation director. Wulfekuhl has been charged with ongoing criminal conduct, a class B felony, and with first degree theft, a class C felony. He’s also charged with non-felonious misconduct in office, a serious misdemeanor.
(This story was updated at 11:59 am with additional information.)