Audit: Former Starmont School Employee Took More Than $229,000
By Chris Earl, Reporter
ARLINGTON, Iowa – Starmont Community School Superintendent Matt O’Loughlin started looking for more answers two years ago as the district’s general fund had lost millions.
“In 2010 we had noticed some discrepancies,” said O’Loughlin, superintendent in Starmont since 2008. “We contacted the state auditor’s office as well as other school districts.”
On Thursday, the state auditor’s office released an 81-page report, detailing what is described as $362,622 of “improper and unsupported disbursements”. Most of that money is attributed to former business manager Vicki Vanter.
Here is the link for the full report:
State Auditor David Vaudt wrote that $229,501 is “attributable” to Vanter. On Thursday morning, Vanter, 61, turned herself in to investigators at the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office in West Union. Vanter now faces a felony first-degree theft charge.
“She did have an initial appearance and she was released on a $10,000 bond,” said Sheriff Marty Fisher.
The audit goes into deep detail on the findings and Vanter’s actions from 1992 until her October 2010 resignation, including:
- $114,532 in “improper payments on personal credit cards”. This includes the years 2000-2002, where auditors claim Vanter was disbursed $22,155, $19,002 and $17,838 in those three years, respectively.
- $57,990 of improper salary and benefits.
- $32,932 in improper payments to vendows.
- $7,132 of improper payments to a financial institution, including a $3,132 depost to Vanter’s personal bank account.
In the audit’s “investigative summary”, the audit states that Vanter was also “responsible for maintaining the computerized accounting software” and that information technology personnel were not allowed to access the system.
The report also states that Vanter would get upset at O’Loughlin, after he took over as superintendent in 2008, when O’Loughlin once used her computer. Also, in late 2009, district leaders considered hiring a firm to review the district’s financial stability and that Vanter was “vehemently opposed” to the idea.
The report said the remaining $133,121 is attributable to former Starmont Superintendent Gary Stumberg, who is not facing any criminal charges as of Thursday afternoon.
After the release of the auditor’s report, the Starmont Community School District website also posted a new page about the audit, offering more information on the financial situation and the district’s attempt to recoup some of the money through insurance.
The overall financial loss to the district is still being determined. The District has submitted a claim to the District’s insurance company for the losses incurred. The District’s insurance policy covers losses of $250,000 per employee with a $2,500 deductible. The funds received from the District’s insurance claim will be used to restore funds to the appropriate accounts.
Stumberg served as superintendent at Starmont until 2008. Des Moines-based attorney Brandon Brown said “it is very clear that the allegations being made against Ms. Vanter are quite different than those being made against Mr. Stumberg”. Brown cited Stumberg’s cooperation throughout the case.
The audit claims the funds attributable to Stumberg are, primarily for salary and benefits, including:
- $36,700 of “improper” and $25,475 of “unsupported salary and benefits”, related to benefit contributions.
- $49,545 of “improper” and $3,903 of “unsupported reimbursements and other payments”.
The audit does not report any personal credit card reimbursement allegations against Stumberg.
Sheriff Marty Fisher said the investigation continues and that more charges could be coming.
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