Saturday, November 1, 2014

City of Bellevue, Washington Blamed In $117K Embezzlment for Lax Financial Controls

From KIRO TV on 10/30/2014:

The city of Bellevue is getting blamed after an employee stole more than a $100,000.

Finding "internal controls at the city were not adequate to safeguard public resources," state auditor Troy Kelley told KIRO 7 on Thursday that Bellevue is partially to blame for an employee's recent embezzlement.

“In certain key areas, there was no oversight,” Kelley said.

The employee “was able to set up accounts and use them, and there was no third person oversight,” according to the auditor.

Kelley’s office was notified by Bellevue a year ago that former parks employee Heather Christoff authorized more than $117,000 for youth sports uniforms.

Christoff later admitted to police and in court that she stole the city money to feed her gambling addiction, instead of using it to buy athletic equipment as intended.

Christoff is now serving a 90-day jail sentence for a crime that infuriated Bellevue residents like Margi Poyer. “

I think it’s terrible,” Poyer told KIRO 7. “I don’t know how they can take the money away from programs for kids because there’s so few of those programs now,."

The city reported the theft to the state, as required by law, because public funds were lost.
Now, Bellevue has reportedly "strengthened internal controls" and made the necessary "changes to policy and procedure" so that such a theft won't happen again.

To read the Auditor’s full report and Bellevue’s response click here. To read KIRO’s original investigation click here

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