AG Investigates $31K Discrepancy At Ada Office

Ada County Seal

A forensic audit of the  County Treasurer’s office ordered by the Ada Commishes has revealed a criminal investigation over a $31,000 discrepancy is underway by the Idaho Attorney General’s office.  

The audit is the latest chapter in the feud between the Commishes and the Treasurer.

Details of minute-by-minute alterations to the accounting of a check in the amount of $31,349 are left unexplained in the audit “due to an investigation underway” by the AG, according to the audit. The funds were destined to the Idaho State Treasurer as part of an estate which was closed by the Ada Treasurer’s office about a year ago.

Treasurer Vicky McIntyre told the GUARDIAN she discovered the irregularity nearly six months ago and immediately notified the Ada County Prosecutor. This happened under a previous administrator who is no longer a county employee.

The audit centered around the role of the “Public Administrator,” a constitutional duty which falls under the elected office of county Treasurer when someone dies with no will or living relatives.

The forensic audit concluded with many recommendations to secure everything from guns and ammo to cash obtained from estates of people who died with no will or living relatives. Eide Bailly LLC conducted the audit which was generally critical of the way the office of Public Administrator is being run. Apart from the case involving the check, there didn’t appear to be any indication of criminal activity.
Questions also arose over property acquired by the Treasurer’s Office prior to being offered for sale. One issue questioned by the auditors was a desktop scanner reportedly worth at least $200 which was “purchased” from an estate for $25, but could not be located during an inventory audit. The scanner was never offered for sale at auction.
Here are some highlights of the audit:
–Items stored in the vault in the courthouse are unsecured during the day in a common area.
–A key to a secure storage bin is left in the lock for anyone to use.
–There appears to be “co-mingling” of assets at county storage facilities.
–Some items are stored at the Coroner’s warehouse in an unsecured area, including guns and ammo.

Forensic Audit Treasurer’s Office 09-24-15

Treasurer Vicky McIntyre offered the following written comment:

The task of public administration has exploded since I took office in January 2011. Prior to this time, the county had approximately 3-4 cases a year. Currently we average about 20 cases a year. We report to the Courts twice a year. In our November report, we reported 14 active cases, 8 pending closure, 1 pending determination, and 3 closed, denied, or transferred.Vicky McIntyre
In 2011, a tax data clerk performed the administrative tasks of public administration. In 2012, I developed a specific job description for public administration because of the explosion of casework and the complexity of the estates. In April 2013, I hired the first official public administration specialist in my office.

As with any new employee, it takes time to transfer processes and have them “make it their own”. In January 2015, that first employee left county employment and I hired a new administrator. Since hiring this second specific public administration employee, we have been developing more standardized procedures and defining categories of tasks that all cases have (small versus large estates). The current PA administrator has added a sophistication of automation to the job. We’ve added a case tracking software called “MyCase” to standardize all estates. She has attempted to bring all former “open” cases into this new standard. We also now have an automated “time tracker” to more accurately log time spent on cases. It all takes time, and everything we do remains “a work in progress”, as no two estates are alike. We have developed a liquidation of estate assets process using the website and auction companies.

Public Administration is not like accounting or business administration, where you can go take a college-level class to know what to do. Many of the processes that have been developed are from recommendations by the prosecuting attorney’s office; the legal advice arm of a public administrator. We do nothing without communicating with the prosecuting attorney assigned to the estate. (We don’t work with just one attorney, but have cases with about twelve different attorneys; each with their own ideas on how public administration should be handled.)

My office has attempted to be respectful of Ada County taxpayers’ expense for public administration and have attempted to use county resources as much as possible to keep costs low. However, in April 2015, I was informed by the Director of Operations, Dave Logan, that county resources would no longer be available for my use; therefore, in the 2015 county budget process, I submitted a supplemental budget request for resources to more appropriately fund the function of public administration. The BOCC approved about half of what was requested. In the request was the need to lease a separate property where the estate assets could be more securely stored, inventoried, and liquidated. (A recommendation you’ll see in the forensic audit report.) While some funding has been provided for this, insufficient resources in this and other functions in the Treasurer’s office continue to be the issue.

All funds of public administration are accurate and can be accounted for. A thorough understanding of the interaction between the treasurer’s office and public administration is needed to be able to fit everything together.

My office has cooperated fully with all audit requests and with all investigators. We will evaluate the suggested changes from all audits, with the available resources, and implement those that are feasible.

Vicky McIntyre
Ada County Treasurer/Tax Collector/Public Administrator

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. I can assure county taxpayers that the vault is secure 24/7. Please read the content carefully so further sensationalisms are avoided.

  2. It’s a good thing government officials are above the law, otherwise they’d all be in prison right now, and what would we do without them!!??
    If a citizen makes a tiny error that gets caught by a government official, they crucify you, but once your in POWER, the rules change.
    Are the FREE guns and ammo still there? I’m on my way right now!

  3. Which address do I send my check to this year? Can I delay a while until the smoke clears and I can be sure it will be accredited to my parcel? Just exactly why did my taxes go up anyway? Inflation adjusted wages went down, unless you have a government job. And the school bus is always late in spite of the new bond AND the fat lady singing in front of the school. Real question. Why did my taxes go up?

  4. Public Administrator?
    From the website of Idaho Association of Counties:
    “Duties as Public Administrator
    The county treasurer administers estates for any individual within the county who dies intestate (without a will or heirs). This includes physically cleaning out their home, storing those items, recording and cataloging funds and personal effects.
    This task requires working closely with the Prosecuting Attorney’s office. It requires searching for heirs and funds, then monitoring for all possible expenses and eventually closing the estate after public advertisement. This task takes a minimum of 1 year for each case.”

    —- so you know when your attorney says “get a will or the state will settle your estate for you”?
    This is the person they are talking about. Yikes!
    Of course in a different county would be someone else.

    In Ada County, Treasurer McIntyre will sell your bras online along with your other ‘personal’ belongings– that’s a warning for some of you weirdo readers – the inventory of stuff is public record.

    So for all readers, let’s help out the county and be sure you have a will and designate a person to settle your estate. Ask your friends and family to do the same.

  5. Who said, “The buck stops here”?

    The Legislative Services Office puts out an annual report about this kind of stuff for the state- most notably last year they found the State Treasurer did a little inappropriate bookkeeping.
    (Only as a citation/and some boring reading:)

    Auditors point out the problems and then the politicians/managers say, “Okay we’ll do better next year”. Only the person actually caught stealing (Brent Coles) gets in trouble. The “managers” who are tasked to protect the coffers get another election.
    Just exactly like McIntyre says in her letter:
    “We will evaluate the suggested changes from all audits, with the available resources, and implement those that are feasible.”

    So regardless of the what the professional auditors said, she will ‘evaluate’ their recommendations based on “her superior understanding” of internal controls (evidence provided in the report) – and only those that “are feasible” will be taken seriously.
    So, trying to protect $31,000 of taxpayer’s money might not be feasible, but photographing lingerie and posting it on an obscure site for sale is feasible?

    She is effectively repeating what Ron Crane said– by publicly stating his office (he) was not wrong:
    “Treasurer Crane: Audit was unfounded and shows a general misunderstanding”
    Crane must have sent his playbook over to McIntyre.

    She says it’s not like taking a college class “to know what to do”.
    Maybe she didn’t get the memo about “Treasurer 101” sponsored by the Idaho Association of Cities. City/County- pretty similar.
    No doubt the Association of Counties has ample resources for a new employee to get up to speed on the unique job of handling dead people’s junk. 😉
    What are the other 43 counties doing? Selling bras online?

    Treasurer 101:

  6. Grumpy ole Guy
    Nov 30, 2015, 4:08 am

    Please tell me that I am not the only one who at least faintly amused by the Coroner’s office “securing” guns and ammo. I am reminded of the Dodge City, Kansas Tombstone cemetery inscription “Dead-Eye Dick, now dead all over.

    And where,pray tell are the Victoria’s Secrete items secured?

  7. Anytime an organization turns over half its employees you have a problem with leadership (reference the ADA County Commissioners letter to McIntyre earlier in November).

    At the same time, she pursues baseless criminal charges against the Commissioners.

    In my opinion, she is a narcissist without leadership skills who needs to be defeated in the next election, if not fired for incompetency.

  8. Steve Rinehart
    Dec 1, 2015, 5:56 pm

    Perhaps, instead of electing someone to work as a professional administrator, we should hire someone who actually has a solid resume and the required education and experience. I mean, other than political party experience.

  9. To R Dean
    Staff turnover includes people retiring and new employees deciding it’s too much work with too few people. None of you know all this office does for the county and taxpayers. No one, including the commissioners, darken my door to learn firsthand what we do and how efficient we are in doing it all.
    I have an education, more than most other county treasurers, and extensive experience. You are welcome to come see us in action some day while we process the millions of tax dollars being collected. In the last 4 business days we’ve handled 20 million and fielded 1,000 phone calls from taxpayers. Where else in county government is this much work done daily?

  10. Nine full-time elected officials to run the county, including 3 to handle the leftovers that the other 6 don’t supervise (landfill, entertainment, P&Z). And still they can’t get it right? Time to reorganize county government.

  11. Right on erico. Alternative county government is possible! Both the treasurer and the coroner should be eliminated or at least should have minimum education requirements. A MBA at minimum for treasurer and a MD or DO for coroner. How does it make sense to have a layperson making decisions about complicated financial or medical decsions? It’s dangerous to the community.

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