By John Speer
Central Iowa Press
Tama County bail bonds paid in cash - three totaling $6,500 - are unaccounted for in a special audit report released Monday by State Auditor David Vaudt. Auditors were not able to determine who may have taken the money, the report says.
The bond money trail seems to run from the sheriff's office and county jail to the clerk of the district court's office to a trash can in the woman's restroom of a local bar according to information in the 10-page report.
Vaudt said in the release the (Iowa) Judicial Department requested the audit after its preliminary investigation revealed the bonds had not been deposited in the bank.
In addition, the report says there are 61 bond receipts in the sheriff's office the auditors cannot locate.
Tama County Attorney Brent Heeren told The News-Herald late Monday afternoon the case is in the hands of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the agency is actively looking into the matter.
He said he does not believe his office can be involved because of the working relationship it has with the sheriff and clerk of court offices.
Heeren he said if any criminal prosecution develops from the case it likely will be handled by the office of the Iowa Attorney General.
The audit report said "we (the state auditors) are unable to determine if the (three) cash bonds were received by the Clerk's Office and not deposited or if the Sheriff's Office did not properly remit the bonds to the Clerk's Office."
The report notes bonds are typically posted at the Clerk of Court Office in the courthouse in Toledo. If the office is closed, the bond money is submitted to the sheriff's office.
The Sheriff's office or jail makes out a triplicate copy of a receipt -a white copy is given to the person posting bond, a yellow copy accompanies the bond money to the clerk of court's office and a pink copy is retained by the sheriff's office, according to details in the report.
An unidentified defendant requested return of a $3,500 cash bond in May as a refund of bond money posted in February based upon a court order. The clerk of court's office was unable to locate any record of the amount being posted. On Aug. 10, 2009, a request for return of $2,000 in bond money was received by the clerk's office with again no completed record of receipt of the bond money found.
The report says the Clerk of Court believed both bonds were still in the sheriff's office.
On Aug. 12 of last year the sheriff's office received an anonymous letter about bond receipts. It included three yellow bond receipts from the sheriff's office "which had been smoothed out, an taped to the letter." The receipts were for the two which the clerk's office had not been able to locate and a third, in the amount of $1,000. The receipts are alleged to have been found in the women's restroom of a local bar which was not named.
The letter alleges an employee of the clerk's office was in the restroom prior to discovery of the receipts. That employee has since been dismissed from the clerk's office for personnel reasons unrelated to the missing bond money, the report said.
The audit report says, "Because there are several people from both the Clerk's Office and the Sheriff's Office with access to cash bonds collected, we are unable to determine who may have misappropriated the $6,500 identified.
Then the report follows up by listing three "scenarios" suggesting how the money disappeared:
Scenario A The cash bond payment received by the Sheriff's Office was never turned over to the Clerk's Office by the individual transporting the cash or check. That individual then disposed of the yellow copy of the Sheriff's Office receipt and kept the cash
Scenario B The cash bond payment received by
the Sheriff's Office was properly remitted
to the Clerk's Office; however, the Clerk's Office employee receiving the cash or check did
not have the Sheriff's Office employee complete the "Bond Receipt Log." The Clerk's Office
employee then disposed of the yellow copy of the Sheriff's Office receipt and kept the cash.
Scenario C The cash bond payment received by the Sheriff's Office was properly remitted
to the Clerk's Office. However, the Sheriff's Office employee and the Clerk's Office
employee worked in collusion to not record the cash bond on the "Bond Receipt Log
The audit report makes a number of suggestions to change accounting procedures for the clerk's office and sheriff's office in addition to changes which have already been implemented.
The special investigation was signed by staff members of the state audtior's office including Tamera S. Kusian, the deupty audtior and Annette K. Campbell, director.
The three persons seeking return of their bond money have been reimbursed by the county's insurance carrier according to Board of supervisors chair Dan Wilkens.