Final Examination of Ravalli County Treasurer’s Office Released
On Tuesday, Ravalli County Attorney Bill Fulbright released the final examination of the county treasurer's office, specifically for the upcoming county commissioner's meeting on Friday, June 20.
Fulbright said the auditing firm of Anderson Zurmuehlen of Helena had to perform an extensive reconstruction of the books, because they were in such disarray.
"This was an incredibly involved process," Fulbright said. "The books had to be rebuilt to the form in which they could actually be examined. Using some very comprehensive fraud investigation techniques, they found all the monies for Ravalli County were accounted for. There was no evidence uncovered of fraud or embezzlement, but what they did find was a specific lack of performance of the required duties of the treasurer's office and disarray in the treasurer's office."
Fulbright said the firm found almost a million dollars that were previously unaccounted for in Valerie Stamey's former office.
"There was $951,000 to be exact, in cash and checks that were simply sitting in Ms. Stamey's office, none of them had been deposited at the time she had been placed on administrative leave when that office was locked down," Fulbright said. "Clearly, that money wasn't being handled properly and it goes back to checks that had been received months before. It's things like that which leads to the finding in the report that there was a specific lack of performance of required duties."
Fulbright said there will be a public meeting on Friday, where the Ravalli County Commissioners will have the opportunity to ask questions of a representative of Anderson Zurmuehlen, who prepared the report.
Fulbright said the possibility exists of further legal action against Ms. Stamey, who has been on paid administrative leave since the turmoil in the county treasurer's office months ago.
"One lawsuit already underway addresses her failure to file reports during her time as treasurer," Fulbright said. "We could also, at the direction of the county, file an official misconduct lawsuit, and that would then give the commissioners official authority to suspend Ms. Stamey for the balance of her appointed term."
Fulbright said Ms. Stamey was certainly welcome to attend Friday's meeting and to address the commission during the public comment period. Stamey has also filed several lawsuits against county officials in the past few months.
Fulbright said the cost to the county of hiring former District Judge Nels Swandal to perform an investigation into fraud allegations and for the comprehensive audit of the treasurer's office has been substantial.
"I think those two items together are somewhere in the neighborhood of $75,000," Fulbright said. "That is money that is coming from the board of commissioners that has been set aside as a special reserve for this particular incident."
Ravalli County Attorney Bill Fulbright