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The financial manager of the Mapleton Irrigation District in Utah County embezzled more than $100,000 from the water district over a nine-year period, according to an investigation released Thursday by the state auditor's office.
Lax oversight by the district board allowed the alleged theft to go undetected for years, auditors found. The board has said it has turned the matter over to the Utah County attorney's office for potential criminal prosecution.
Auditors found that the district's financial manager wrote herself as much as $56,123 in checks, paid another $27,253 to a company she owns and used district money to cover $33,421 in personal credit-card bills. All told, she allegedly took as much as $116,797 from the district between 2006 and 2015.
The report says that, when questioned about the funds, the officer admitted she had loaned herself nearly $104,000, but there were no documents detailing such arrangements, a plan for repayment or an interest rate and the arrangement was never approved by the district's governing board.
"Clearly, these payments were not loans but were a theft of district funds," the report said.
The district board had little oversight and lax policies on money management, the audit said. The scheme siphoned off 6 percent of the district's annual operating budget, took place over nine years and should have been detected.
"The theft occurred because the governing board failed to exercise proper oversight of the financial activity of the district," the audit said.
The auditor recommended the district seek restitution, establish internal controls to prevent future misappropriation and refer the case to the county attorney for potential criminal prosecution, which the board said it has done.
The official in question is not named in the report. A call to the Mapleton Irrigation District was not answered Thursday and the voice mailbox was full. The auditor said the district had not submitted a financial report, as required by law, since 2009. The failure to file the reports may have been intentional, the audit said, to prevent an accountant from reviewing the district's financial records.