FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney White Collar Crime and Public Integrity Team has asked a Grand Jury to open an investigation into the alleged theft of funds from the City of Grapevine by two of its employees.
Two independent investigations concluded former Director of Parks and Recreation Kevin Mitchell and former Director of Libraries Ruth Chiego used more than $58,000 of city funds for “personal use.”
An internal investigation conducted by a third-party firm said Mitchell used $33,359 of the city’s money and Chiego used $24,916.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram first reported that Mitchell bought football tickets and Apple products. Chiego bought furniture and spent thousands of dollars on Amazon purchases.
The city released this statement nearly two weeks ago, saying:
“The City of Grapevine takes its responsibility as a fiduciary of taxpayer dollars seriously. As such, we employ both internal and external auditing of expenditures to insure compliance with city policy, generally accepted accounting practices and State law. Recently, a member of our finance staff raised a question about two department heads and purchases they made on their Purchasing Card (P-Card) that appeared to be personal. Of course, personal expenses on a City P-Card are not and have never been allowed by any City employee.”
Upon being informed of the concern, the City Manager’s office took the following steps:
- Retained an outside forensic auditor to review the P-Card purchases for both employees whose spending was questioned, and further tasked them with reviewing a significant number of other P-Card purchases to assess citywide compliance.
- The outside forensic audit report completed in mid-January, was provided to the City’s external auditor.
- The report made recommendations for internal control improvements which were immediately instituted. Further, the auditor identified the personal purchase transactions made by the two department heads.
- Both department heads resigned and are required to pay back the funds spent for personal use as recommended by the audit firm.”
Following the February audit, Chiego resigned and Mitchell went into retirement.
The Grapevine city council was not told about the investigation until the two employees left, and they are now introducing an update process for employees using city funding.
The new procedures according to the city manager include:
- Every department head transaction approved by finance
- Staff level transactions are approved by department supervisor and finance
- Any questionable transactions are forwarded to City Manager’s office
Both former employees agreed to pay back the amount that was tied to personal use within nine months. The city said Mitchell has already paid in full.
The city manager admits there is a possibility that they could’ve gotten the amount of money spent wrong; it could be more than what the report found.
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