Former County Employee Faces Charges

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Iowa State Auditor Releases Findings Of Its Investigation Into Alleged Theft Of Funds At Mills County Treasurer's Office

By Joe Foreman, Editor

A former employee of the Mills County Treasurer's Office is facing eight charges and potential prison time for the alleged theft of more than $36,000 from the auto department over a six-year period, from 2005-2011.

Charges were filed Friday against Tammy Gammon following a special investigation by the Iowa State Auditor's Office. Gammon, who was fired from her position in April 2011, was charged with on-going criminal conduct, first-degree theft, felonious conduct in office and five counts of forgery.

Mills County Attorney Eric Hansen said the charges were filed after findings of the state auditor's investigation were released. The investigation was requested by Mills County officials in 2011 over concerns that collections were not being properly deposited for the auto department within the treasurer's office. Auditor David Vaudt said the investigation identified 182 improperly voided or altered vehicle registration renewals, vehicle titles and improper fee adjustments recorded in the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) ARCON Registration and Title System (DOT System). The transactions identified were improperly voided, altered or adjusted to show no fees were collected or the amount recorded was less than the amount actually collected and resulted in $36,349.75 of undeposited collections.

According to the state auditor's report, Gammon admitted to investigators from the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation she voided certain statements and kept the cash to use for “day-to-day expenses” without depositing the money into her bank account. The majority of the 182 identified transactions in question were recorded with Gammon’s user identification. The other 16 were recorded with user identifications for other employees in the office. According to staff members in the treasurer’s office, Gammon had access to her co-workers’ user identifications and passwords.

The state auditor’s report said the fees collected at the auto department are shared between the county and the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT). For vehicle registration renewals and various fees, the county retains 4 percent of the collections and the remaining 96 percent is transferred to the IDOT on a monthly basis. When a new title is issued, the county keeps $1 of the use tax collected and the remaining amount is transferred to the Treasurer of State for the IDOT’S Road Use Tax Fund. Of the $36,349.75 of undeposited collections, the county should have retained $1,414.51 and the state should have received $34,935.24.

Investigators determined that in multiple cases, auto department transactions were voided after a Mills County resident had paid their renewal fee and been issued a new registration for a vehicle. In these cases, when the residents returned to renew their registration again a year later, they were told they also owed registration fees for the prior year, even though they possessed documents showing their registration was valid and they had paid the proper registration fees the prior year. As a result of the voided transactions, some drivers of vehicles from Mills County may have been improperly ticketed for not having proper registration or may have been assessed with late payment charges when they renewed their registration the following year.

Gammon was employed at the treasurer’s office from January 2003 until her firing last year.

In its report, the state auditor’s office offers recommendations to strengthen the internal controls and overall operations of the Mills County Treasurer’s Office, including segregation of duties, reviewing voided transactions, preparing cash receipts for all transactions and reconciling receipts to deposits. In addition, the report includes recommendations to the IDOT for improving controls over the ARCON Registration and Title System.