A special investigation by the state auditor’s office has found the former city clerk of Silver City took thousands of city dollars for personal use.

Auditors reviewed the city’s financial transactions over a four-year period and concluded former City Clerk Artema  Gray made more than $42,000 worth of improper purchases on the city’s credit cards. She paid for video streaming services and an Ancestry test and bought clothing, sheets, jewelry, games and other items not related to city business.

The review also concluded Gray overpaid herself by nearly $11,000, used city money to pay her CenturyLink bills, and may have pocketed some of the money from fundraisers. State Auditor Rob Sand’s office released a report on a special investigation that looked at several financial transactions processed by Gray from May 1st, 2017, through April 30th.

“Lots and lots of paperwork over the course of a few years–credit card statements, bank statements, and that kind of thing, just to see where all the money was going. As it turns out, an awful lot of it was going to her personal expenses,” Sand says.

Sand says utilizing taxpayer dollars for personal expenses is still an all too common finding, and Sand says the current trend is frustrating. “We need to have laws that take the theft of public funds seriously,” Sand emphasized. “Right now, there’s no amount of money that you can steal that you are then obligated to go to prison. We need to change that, we need to change it so that people who steal money from taxpayers actually end up serving some time behind bars. It doesn’t have to be the longest sentence in the world, but they shouldn’t be eligible for probation anymore.”

Sand says the city had also not implemented “checks and balances” policies or procedures recommended in a report from May 2018. The report has been turned over to the Iowa Attorney General and Mills County Attorney’s Offices for further action.

(By Ryan Matheny, KMA, Shenandoah)