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> Incoming Controller had office lose funds in Portage
Southsider2k12
post Dec 20 2011, 02:15 PM
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I had been waiting to see this dug into locally, but I hadn't seen anything yet, so I am going to go ahead and post these stories.

In-coming Controller Donna Pappas had her office come up with what was at first suspected to be $50,000, missing. After investigations, that number fell to $3700, but it has yet to be accounted for. Apparently the funds came from cash the city received, which was left sitting in envelopes on an employee of the Clerk-Treasurers Office's desk (in Portage).

Another interesting twist in this that the investigation taken by the state found that the procedures and controls in the office were lacking, which would fall squarely on Pappas as the Clerk-Treasurer. They do not believe that theft occurred, or that Pappas knew about this until the money was figured out as missing after months.

http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/...a2c6e49fbc.html

QUOTE
Finger-pointing continues in Portage missing money case

By Joyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 | Posted: Friday, January 7, 2011 12:00 am | (10) Comments

PORTAGE | The $3,700 discovered missing from city coffers last year has officials pointing fingers.

A State Board of Accounts special investigation report released Thursday confirmed the missing money and said the shortage was caused by funds taken in by the city's Police Department but not properly deposited in the bank. The audit blames procedures and a lack of controls in place at the time, but it does not blame any individual or department involved.

Deciding who is at fault may be up to the Indiana attorney general's office or Porter County prosecutor's office. The report was turned over to both agencies Thursday for possible further investigation and action, said Mike Bozymski, deputy state examiner with the State Board of Accounts.

Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel said he received the report and will review it before making a determination on whether his office will take action.

The issue arose last year when Porter County police were asked to investigate nearly $50,000 in missing funds. Most of the money, collected from various Police Department fees, was found in unopened envelopes in a clerk-treasurer department employee's drawer, officials said.

Police said the employee agreed to undergo a voice stress test in which she was asked if she stole any of the money. She answered that she did not steal it, and the voice stress test showed no deception on her part.

No formal charges were filed, and the county closed the case. The employee was disciplined.

Procedures also were changed to prevent the problem from occurring again.

But the remaining $3,700 has not been found. It is unknown whether it is simply missing or misplaced or if it was stolen.

Clerk-Treasurer Donna Pappas said no one in her department has the money and believes the problem lies within the Police Department. Mayor Olga Velazquez and Police Chief Mark Becker said they believe the money was misplaced or taken from Pappas' office. Pappas is challenging Velazquez in the May 3 Democrat primary for a chance at the mayor's seat.

"I want to find out what happened to the money. (The police) say they brought it over, and I don't have anything saying they did," said Pappas, who has offered for herself and her staff to take a voice stress test to clear themselves. She said she also contacted the Indiana State Police to continue the investigation, but it declined to get involved.

"I am confident that the issue wasn't within the Police Department," Velazquez said. "There were envelopes found in and around the clerk-treasurer's office. They hadn't deposited the money."

"I don't even have a hint of suspicion that it was lost on this end," said Becker, adding that they had a "pretty solid chain of custody for the money" while it was at the Police Department.

Both Pappas and Velazquez said they would like to see the investigation continue.

"That money should be accounted for," Velazquez said.

Read more: http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/...l#ixzz1h6jzi65q
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Southsider2k12
post Dec 20 2011, 02:17 PM
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http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/...64c953e447.html

QUOTE
Most of nearly $50,000 missing from Portage city clerk's office now accounted for

By Ken Kosky ken.kosky@nwi.com, (219) 548-4354 | Posted: Thursday, August 19, 2010 12:00 am | (34) Comments

PORTAGE | Most of the nearly $50,000 missing from the city of Portage clerk-treasurer's office was found in unopened envelopes inside and around the desk of the employee who handled the funds, Porter County police said.

The employee told police she got busy and sometimes went as long as two months before making the proper deposits. Police said the employee agreed to undergo a voice stress test in which she was asked if she stole any of the money. She answered that she did not steal it, and the voice stress test showed no deception on her part.

Police determined that of the $46,390 that was originally missing, $3,700 remains unaccounted for.

Porter County police Detective Erik Wiseman wrote in his report that it's his opinion that the employee "did not take this money for personal gain. However, I do believe (the employee) was neglectful in her duties as an employee of the clerk-treasurer's Office and did not do her job responsibly."

Wiseman, who began his investigation on July 11, has closed the case without criminal charges being filed until further evidence or suspect information become available.

The employee in question remains under the city's employ, according to a city human resources official. Clerk-Treasurer Donna Pappas said she could not comment about the employee or the missing funds because the office currently has the State Board of Accounts auditing its books.

Wiseman said the missing money -- which is believed to have disappeared between October and August, involves cash, checks and money the Portage Police Department generates from selling accident reports and firearm permits, doing vehicle identification number checks and conducting its Arrive Alive program.

The money was discovered missing in the weeks before July 11 when a Portage police official called the clerk-treasurer's office to find out the balance of their account, then realized the amount he was told was incorrect.

Porter County police were called in to investigate because the missing money came from Portage police collections. Porter County police said Pappas told them that any number of people from the Police Department or her office could have misplaced the money, and she told police it was more likely misplaced than stolen.

Read more: http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/...l#ixzz1h6l049Am
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Southsider2k12
post Dec 20 2011, 02:19 PM
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Also it is interesting to note that Pappas is coming off of a failed run for Mayor of Portage. This means she has to be an official resident of the town. This means she will not be able to sit on the Board of Works, as they have to be Michigan City residents, as has traditionally been done by City Controllers.

This is what Pappas said about the funds on her Mayoral Campaign page.

http://donnaformayor.com/youaskedianswer

QUOTE
1. What happened to the missing $3,700?

You, I, and everyone else know that money shouldn’t go missing, ever. Finding the missing money is a top priority for me. In response to my request, the Porter County Sheriff investigated but could not determine where it went. The State Auditor has closed its investigation on my office and the official report does not hold my office accountable for the missing money, however I am in the process of soliciting more investigation because “We don’t know” isn’t good enough. The State Auditor’s report on the Police Department has been remanded to both the State’s Attorney General and the Porter County Prosecutor’s offices and is ongoing. Questions about the Police Department should be appropriately directed to the mayor.
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