The former city clerk in a small southwest Iowa town has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to stealing money from Silver City accounts.

Forty-four-year-old Artema Madeline Gray pleaded guilty to first-degree theft. An investigation found she made over $42,000 in personal purchases on the city’s credit card and overpaid herself nearly $11,000. State Auditor Rob Sand’s office conducted the special investigation that was released this spring.

“If you have somebody who has too much power, they can abuse that power,” Sand said. “And so we always recommend that they segregate duties, so that different people are involved in handling money and things like that, that essentially take away the opportunity for people to commit acts of embezzlement.”

The special investigation covered transactions in Silver City from May of 2017 through April of 2021 and found Gray used city money to pay her CenturyLink bills and may have pocketed money from city fundraisers. According to the Mills County Attorney’s Office, Gray was sentenced after current and former officials from Silver City spoke about the financial impact on the town of 245 residents.

(By Ryan Matheny, KMA, Shenandoah)