Deputy State Auditor Tami Kusian says the investigation centered on the activities of Renee Van Gundy in Yale and Bayard. “There was a period of time that she was at both. She started at the city of Yale in 2008 and at the City of Bayard in 2010. And we were first asked to do an investigation at the city of Yale,” Kusian says.
She says after getting into the Yale investigation they learned that Van Gundy also worked at Bayard and decided to look into the books there too. “In the two cities…we’ve identified over 60,000 of improper disbursements and collections,” Kusian says. The Yale audit found some $29,000 of improper use of the city’s money. Kusian says it includes things like Van Gundy using city funds to pay her personal gas, electric, and cellphone bills, personal purchases on the city credit card as well as payments on her own credit card.
The investigation found around $31,000 of similar misspending in Bayard. “We had some payments to her cellphone, we had extra payroll checks and we quite a few improper payment credit card charges on the city’s credit card,” Kusian says. “And it included a lot of grocery stores — the big box stores like Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond and restaurants, things like that.” Kusian says there was a lack of oversight by both cities and they’ve made some recommendations to city officials to improve the oversight of city funds. She says having someone work two positions at the same time is not unusual.
“It really isn’t we’ve had a handful of cases where we know — not necessarily where we’ve had investigations — but we know of cities where a clerk might be at two or three cities. So, it’s not unusual,” according to Kusian. “You know those jobs are not necessarily full time so in a case like this if you can be a clerk at two or three cities you can get a full time job out of it,”Kusian says.
Yale and Bayard are in west-central Iowa and are within a dozen or so miles from each other. Van Gundy work for Yale through 2016 and Bayard until April of 2014. The information on the investigations has been turned over to the Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Guthrie County Attorney’s Office, and the Attorney General’s Office.