Friday, August 03, 2012

Another Township Trustee's Spending Questioned

Thank goodness the State Board of Accounts is doing its job because township boards clearly are not looking over the shoulder of township trustees in this state in questioning expenditures they make. A report by the agency found that Olive Township Trustee John Michalski, a Democrat, had authorized more than $7,600 in expenditures that could not be substantiated, including ATM withdrawals at three casinos in Indiana and Minnesota. Michalski reimbursed the township for the undocumented expenditures after the State Board of Accounts recently issued its report. From the South Bend Tribune:
Someone with access to Olive Township's debit card made more than $1,600 in unauthorized ATM withdrawals at three casinos in Indiana and Minnesota between 2009 and 2011, according to an audit of the township's finances by the State Board of Accounts.
Not only that, but someone altered the corresponding bank statements in an attempt to conceal the transactions, made at Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, and Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake, Minn., the report states.
Also according to the report, Olive Township trustee John Michalski:
-- Failed to report or pay taxes on more than $600 in additional income he received from the township for maintaining a township-owned lot;
-- Failed to provide sufficient documentation to support various township expenses, including assistance payments, totaling more than $3,700;
-- Failed to reimburse the township the cost of a prescription medication in his name paid for with the township debit card; and
-- Failed to properly reconcile the township's bank balance, resulting in a negative balance of more than $1,500.

The State Board of Accounts has requested that Michalski also reimburse the agency for the costs of conducting an audit of the township's records because his record-keeping was so bad, a request with which he has so far declined to comply. The State Board of Accounts has referred the matter to the St. Joseph Co. Prosecutor's Office to consider whether criminal charges should be filed in the case. Another township trustee in St. Joseph Co., Penn Township Trustee Jeff Dean (D), recently pleaded guilty to ghost employment charges after it was discovered that he had been paying his live-in girlfriend and former secretary for work that she was not performing. Olive Township Board President Clark Hensell told the Tribune that he was "totally" confident in Michalski's ability to perform his job. Wow!


Bradley said...

I'm biased, but the State Board of Accounts is the best agency in State government. This story was pretty interesting, as well, about a year-old state law and what government agencies are to report to the SBOA:

Debate has been going-on for years on whether SBOA should be under the executive branch or another branch; I think it should be under another branch besides the executive, especially with a governor like Mitch Daniels being in charge who has severely cut the number of auditors working at SBOA in his overall fiscal Reign of Error. SBOA unfortunately does not have a whole lot of power to enforce as it can just recommend their findings to prosecutors -- such as the case in St. Joe County. More prosecutorial power might be better at ensuring public servants stay in line; also, since the SBOA is split between both parties, there would be less of a chance of a partisan prosecutor dismissing a case because of party affiliation of the offender.

Marycatherine Barton said...

It would appear that Michaelski has been gambling on his township's dimes. A criminal offense, in my opinion.

Indy4u2c said...

-and the message is clear: ELIMINATE TOWNSHIPS!

They have no useful purpose and are a haven of corruption, as well as a waste of TAX money.

Mary Roger Bowser said...

I'm not sure which is worse. This one, or ones where trustees spend tax dollars on "uniforms" for their employees, put signs with their names on township vehicles, "advertise" for business in neighborhood papers, or hire "assistant" trustees for $200,000 per year.