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Former IVCSD general manager jailed on embezzlement charges

Dan McDonald
Managing Editor
11/29/2013

 

A former general manager of the Indian Valley Community Services District is accused of stealing more than $380,000 from the district while she was in charge.

Leanna May Moore, 41, of Winnemucca, Nev., surrendered to a Plumas County sheriff’s deputy Thursday, Nov. 21, two days after a warrant was issued for her arrest.

According to a four-count criminal complaint filed by the Plumas County District Attorney’s Office, Moore is accused of forgery and embezzlement during her tenure as the district’s GM from 2006 to 2012.

She is also charged with an “aggravated white-collar crime enhancement” because the alleged crimes resulted in a loss of more than $100,000.

“This type of violation of the public’s trust is offensive on many levels,” District Attorney David Hollister said. “I look forward to the court process and opportunity to present our case and obtain justice for the citizens of Indian Valley.”

Moore was held at the Plumas County jail on $500,000 bail. She appeared in Plumas County Superior Court on Friday, Nov. 22, where she entered a plea of not guilty.

On Monday, Nov. 25, the court reduced her bail amount to $100,000, provided it was posted in cash from a legitimate source. As a condition of the bail reduction, Moore agreed to waive extradition.

She was expected to post bail and return to court on Jan. 10, 2014.

“Leanna is a good person and a dedicated mother. She has never been in trouble in her life,” said her attorney, Jeff Cunan.

“The IVCSD has been in disarray for a very long time, since well before Leanna worked there,” Cunan said. “Unraveling who, exactly, is responsible for what will take some time. If Leanna has made mistakes, she will rectify them.”

According to the complaint, Moore used a variety of methods to funnel money to herself. She is accused of adding herself to the payroll, writing checks to herself while forging the names of district board members, and making unauthorized purchases with a district debit card.

Current and former IVCSD board members have been advised to not comment on the case because they are considered witnesses in the ongoing investigation.

Board member Jane Braxton Little said the directors were advised to direct questions to the district attorney.

According to the complaint, all five of the IVCSD board members interviewed by the DA’s office said they had no idea the embezzlement was occurring.

The $381,841 Moore is accused of taking is a little less than about half of the district’s annual budget.

 

The investigation

Frank Richardson, who succeeded Moore as the service district’s general manager in 2012, contacted the district attorney’s office on July 16, 2012.

Richardson and certified public accountant Jeff Trump, from Haws, Theobald and Auman (of Chester and Susanville), met with investigators Jessica Beatley and Jeff Wilkinson from the district attorney’s office. Richardson said the IVCSD had discovered questionable spending made by the former general manager, Moore.

Richardson said it appeared the district’s Plumas Bank debit card was being used excessively at different retail stores.

He said Moore’s name was on the card and that she had sole access to it. Richardson told investigators that he was concerned Moore may have misused the district’s money in other ways. His concerns prompted the district to hire the CPA firm to conduct an audit that covered Moore’s employment as general manager.

On May 16, 2013, Haws, Theobold and Auman informed investigators that possible embezzlement occurred between July 1, 2006, and June 30, 2012.

The breakdown of the audit showed $180,580 in unauthorized salary obtained by Moore. The audit also found embezzlement in the amount of $201,261. The purchases were made by the Plumas Bank debit card that only Moore had access to.

CPA Clay Singleton wrote in the audit that the possible embezzlement was mainly in the form of payroll fraud and fraudulent cash disbursements. He said it was likely the result of forging board members’ signatures.

He said payroll fraud was evident because of many unscheduled paychecks to Moore. The debit card fraud consisted of purchases at Amazon, Cabela’s, Wal-Mart, Apple, Kate Spade and other retailers.

Each store was contacted by investigators. They indicated that almost all the purchased items were ordered by and delivered to Moore’s home address in Winnemucca. The items included home goods, electronics, clothes and children’s items.

Last month, investigators Wilkinson and Beatley interviewed five of the six board members that served during Moore’s employment. Braxton Little, John Schramel, Blake Shelters, Brad Smith and Judi Yocum were interviewed separately at the district’s office in Greenville. Board member Michael Yost was out of the country.

All five board members said they were unaware of the alleged embezzlement. They said, in addition to bookkeeping, Moore was in charge of payroll, purchasing, producing a budget and supervising the district’s employees.

She was not required to share bank and business account statements with the board, they said. The board members said they never granted any additional pay to Moore, other than a 2008 pay increase.

They confirmed that all district checks (with the exception of payroll) require a signature from two board members. When checks written and cashed by Moore, which contained their signatures, were shown to Schramel, Smith and Yocum, they all said the signatures appeared to be forged.

Schramel said he had made a signature stamp, which appeared to have been used without his knowledge.

Schramel told investigators he couldn’t remember for sure when he had granted Moore permission to use his stamp, but he seemed certain that it was not for a large number of checks. Approximately 42 checks written to Moore contained Schramel’s signature stamp, according to the complaint.

 

Impact to the district

Last month current general manager Jesse Lawson was interviewed by investigators. He said Moore’s alleged embezzlement had a huge financial impact on the district.

Lawson said that while Moore was general manager, she would not fill positions when employees left.

The district reportedly had 14 employees when Moore began. It currently has three.

Lawson told investigators that Moore basically quit paying bills. He said all of the district’s accounts were delinquent when he took over.

He said district customers are charged a monthly fee to help repay a Plumas County loan and a USDA loan. He said Moore was supposed to put that money into a reserve, which, he said, she never did. Lawson said when he became general manager the reserves were empty.

Lawson said, that while Moore was manager, many requests were made for important work-related equipment and that Moore denied almost every request, saying the district didn’t have the money.

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