WEST DECATUR — The majority of Monday evening’s Boggs Township Supervisors meeting — which was held in the parking lot to allow more people to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions — discussed recent findings from a forensic audit.
At last month’s meeting, Solicitor CJ Zwick announced that with a recent forensic audit performed by Fiore Fedeli Snyder Carothers LLP of Altoona, it found 126 “undocumented or unsubstantiated payments” that were made between 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and part of 2018 — that totaled $129,975.
The audit also showed that former Secretary/Treasurer Denise Dobo was overpaid 57 hours over the duration in vacation pay, while former Supervisor Jeff Baney, who died in January 2017, was overpaid 180.77 vacation hours. Former Supervisor Bill Dickson was overpaid 96 hours. For sick pay, Dobo, Baney and Dickson had a balance of 28, 77.5, and 32 hours, respectively.
Zwick said last month that if there was any “explicit wrongdoing, a final determination and additional services of the forensic auditor — and potentially others — would be required.”
At Monday’s meeting, resident Dana Droll presented the supervisors with a petition signed by 205 residents.
“Basically what the petition’s asking is that we pursue the investigation and criminal charges, and if criminal charges are warranted, they be brought forth,” Droll said.
Zwick said since the township met last month, leaders had discussions “at some length” with different entities — the forensic auditor, Clearfield County District Attorney Ryan Sayers and state police.
“The matter will be referred to the Pennsylvania State Police,” Zwick said. “I’m fairly confident that some level of investigation will occur. Where that investigation leads, I don’t think anybody knows. And obviously the Pennsylvania State Police, as a whole, are very capable of handling these types of issues. And I have confidence that they will do so with this issue specifically.”
Droll also asked why not have the audit done by a private firm instead of township auditors, to which the supervisors said that’s what they now do. However, previously that was not done.
“My concern is those four years that we’re talking about, there’s 30+ checks without invoices (per year),” Droll said. “How did those auditors not report those findings? I sat through three of those auditors meetings and never heard a word about invoices.”
Zwick said to be fair all around, he said while many of those likely should have been invoices, he said it’s not “uncommon for there to be recurring types of expenses that there wouldn’t necessarily be an invoice for.”
“And if they are recurring types of expenses, that takes the suspicion away to some extent from the omission of having invoices along with it,” Zwick said. “I get (Droll’s) point and the public accountant is taking care of it now.”
As far as what happened with the township and former employees previously, Zwick said they’ll leave that up to police to decide if anything should be done.
Questions then arose by many as to why not do a forensic bond on other years, citing that Dobo worked for the township for more than 30 years. Zwick saidthat, while he feels for the township’s perspective, that isn’t necessary.
“If we were to undertake that kind of project and expense, it wouldn’t behoove any of us ... it would be a huge undertaking and cost a lot of money,” Zwick said. “Hopefully, that is something that the Pennsylvania State Police, if they deem appropriate, will look at.”
A woman in the crowd then said, “and so if we have no faith in the state police, so the Attorney General is the next step?”
Zwick confirmed that would be the case, and the woman said, “There’s too many connections in this small town” to have state police conduct the investigation.
Zwick again reiterated the township will have the state police conduct the investigation and then they would go from there.
“They have a lot of resources,” Zwick said of the state police. Others said they’ve already contacted the Attorney General’s office on the matter.
Droll took umbrage with checks that were written out that were in the forensic audit, especially of those who left the township immediately thereafter.
“I hear what you’re saying,” Zwick responded. “But again, if it were a black and white issue, we wouldn’t be sitting here talking about it. But we are taking the steps forward to hopefully make some progress here and hand it off to law enforcement.”
When asked how would the residents be updated on the issue, Zwick said he can’t speak for police, but generally speaking, “the contents of a criminal investigation are not made public.” He also stated that updates typically wouldn’t even be made to the supervisors, let alone at a supervisors meeting.