A former Grant County Public Utility District employee embezzled more than $236,000 from the organization over the past two years, according to the state auditor’s office.
Deputy treasurer Tom Leedy used a sophisticated scheme to steal the money and cover up the thefts, according to an investigative report released Friday.
“Accounting records were falsified and destroyed in an attempt to conceal these losses,” the report stated.
Leedy was caught in April after other employees in his department noticed discrepancies in the books.
Grant County prosecutors are considering whether to file criminal charges against Leedy, who resigned in April when state officials began investigating his conduct.
The 14-year employee of Grant County PUD No. 2 could not be reached for comment Friday.
District spokesman Gary Garnant said Leedy has paid $193,000 in restitution under a deal worked out with the utility.
Garnant wasn’t sure why Leedy took the money. “It’s a sad, sad situation,” he said.
Leedy began skimming money from the district’s accounts in December 1995, auditors said.
According to the report, the scheme worked this way:
Leedy created false invoices from three of the district’s vendors. He had the accounting department send the checks issued to pay those bills to him for distribution.
He then used electronic scanners and color printers to alter the checks so they were made payable to him. He also forged the authorizing signature.
Leedy then deposited the money into his private checking account.
To cover his tracks, he changed the district’s computerized accounting records to make it look like the vendors had received the checks.
An accounting clerk noticed something was amiss on April 1, Garnant said.
“They spotted what appeared to be an irregularity to them, and even though it was made by their supervisor, reported it to the district treasurer,” he said.
When confronted, Leedy claimed he was only testing the accounting system, auditors said. He later admitted he stole the money, the report states.
State auditors say Leedy also kept personal records on the district’s computers, which violated “the code of ethics law for municipal officers.”
The utility, which provides power to more than 37,000 customers, has tightened its accounting procedures since Leedy was caught, Garnant said.