State Audit Reveals Nearly $230,00 of Improper Reimbursements toFormer County Environmental Specialist

Written by Theresa Rose on June 26, 2019

The Henry County Supervisors and Board of Health members are not commenting on the State’s investigation into former Environmental Specialist Jodi Sutter and questions are to be referred to County Attorney Darin Stater.

Auditor of State Rob Sand Tuesday released a report on a special investigation of the Henry County Environmental Health Office for the period July 1, 2010 through January 31, 2018.The special investigation was requested by County officials as a result of concerns regarding certain reimbursements to Sutter. Officials identified concerns regarding the lack of supporting documentation for the reimbursements, reimbursement for an intern who did not work for the County, and reimbursements for meetings Ms.Sutter did not attended. As a result of the concerns identified,the Henry County Board of Health (BOH) terminated Ms.Sutter’s contract during the February 8, 2018 BOH meeting. Sand reported the special investigation identified $218,633.03 of improper disbursements, $3,810.51 of unsupported disbursements,$830.31 of overbilled grant revenue, and $6,301.00 of undeposited collections. The $218,633.03 of improper disbursements identified were composed of reimbursements to Ms.Sutter and included: •$159,142.15of improper hourly wages,•$29,727.50 of reimbursements for an intern who did not work for the County, •$7,967.54 of travel expenses for which Ms.Sutter did not attend the meeting listed on her reimbursement claims and / or did not incur the mileage she claimed, •$3,159.35for cell phones and internet services,and•$11,645.88of reimbursements in excess of what Ms.Sutter paid to Des Moines and Jefferson Counties for work they performed in Henry Country when Ms.Sutter was not available. The $3,810.51of unsupported disbursements identified includes reimbursements for items such a sink, postage, and office supplies.In addition, Sand reported the $6,301.00of undeposited collections identified included $2,501.00of checks which were not deposited within a year and became stale, $1,700.00 of undeposited fees for the inspections of septic systems and wells,and $2,000.00 of grant revenue for which expense were not submitted to the State for reimbursement under a grant. In addition, the County over billed the Grants to Counties program $830.31 for water samples which were taken by staff person who was not qualified to take samples. Sand also reported it was not possible to determine if additional amounts were improperly disbursed or if additional fees for inspections and other services were not properly deposited because adequate documentation was not available.The report includes recommendations to strengthen the BOH’s internal controls and operations, such as improving segregation of duties, maintaining supporting documentation, and maintaining adequate financial records, including ledgers and receipt books. The report also includes a recommendation regarding compliance with Iowa Department of Health administrative rules requiring testing be performed by certified staff. Copies of this report have been filed with the Henry County Attorney’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Division of Criminal Investigation. A copy of the report is available for review on the Auditor of State’s web site at https://auditor.iowa.gov/reports/audit-reports/.# # #