No charges filed against former Medora auditorCharges will not be filed against a former Medora city auditor who allegedly stole more than $10,000 worth of city funds, a state’s attorney announced at a city council meeting Tuesday evening.
MEDORA — Charges will not be filed against a former Medora city auditor who allegedly stole more than $10,000 worth of city funds, a state’s attorney announced at a city council meeting Tuesday evening.
After former Medora City Auditor Sherri Ross left her post in May 2008, an audit was performed by Beach-based accountant James Wosepka and several discrepancies were uncovered.
“Jim discovered a number of checks issued by Sherri to herself that were either duplicate checks or were entered with a vendor’s name in the computer but with Sherri’s name on the actual check,” said Billings County State’s Attorney Jay Brovold.
Beginning in 2004 and spanning to 2007, 13 checks were written, totaling $10,471.28, according to the audit report.
Brovold said his decision not to file charges against Ross were based on several factors, most importantly that Ross had made full restitution on the owed funds, Brovold said during the meeting.
On Dec. 18, the city received a check made payable by Ross for the full amount, plus the cost of a new audit, totaling $12,971.28.
“In consideration of this fact and a number of other factors which were discussed by me and two members of this council on Dec. 2, no criminal charges will be filed by my office against Ms. Ross,” Brovold said.
However, even if charges were to be filed, North Dakota’s statute of limitations would have barred all but two of the 13 instances.
The two checks, one written in July 2007 and the other in December 2007, totaled $1838.05.
Brovold said the statute of limitations on felony charges, with the exception of murder, is three years.
In a letter to Brovold, Kolling said the charges could have constituted a class B felony.
Brovold cited additional reasons for not filing charges, including consideration for time, effort and expense that goes into prosecuting an out-of-state resident and the lack of information he said he received.
The Bureau of Criminal Investigations conducted an interview with Ross in Mesa, Ariz.
Brovold said he has yet to see a full copy of the BCI report.
“Well, she basically admitted it in that interview,” Brovold said. “Is the fact that she paid the money proof that she did it? Not technically, I guess.”
After several months of correspondence between Brovold, Medora City Attorney Matt Kolling and the city council, an answer as to whether or not Ross would be charged still hadn’t been reached.
“The fact that I feel it necessary to present this statement in this manner is the result of a several-month period of strife between me, the city council and the city attorney,” Brovold said.
Kolling said he provided Brovold with all the information he had on the case.
“It was my assumption that as the chief law enforcement officer for Billings County that Mr. Brovold would see to it that the matter was investigated and prosecuted,” Kolling said. “I didn’t believe it was necessary for the city of Medora specifically to request Mr. Brovold to take specific action on this. As the prosecutor, it is my belief it is his responsibility to take action when information is given to him.”
City council members were also awaiting an answer amid questions of which attorney involved was handling the matter.
Medora Mayor Doug Ellison said he assumed communication would be conducted by the three entities rather than the city needing to contact each one separately.
“Looking back, I assumed that BCI and the city attorney and the state’s attorney had open lines of communication between the three and obviously that’s not true,” Ellison said.
“There was quite a lack of communication. I’m sure this council bears some responsibility for that.”