Former manager of Fremont County landfill pleads guilty to theft charge

SIDNEY, Iowa — The former manager of the Fremont County landfill has pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of theft related to a state investigation that accused him of improperly using thousands of tax dollars between October 2014 and August 2015.

Dusty VanRenan, 32, was charged with ongoing criminal conduct and second-degree theft.

In Fremont County Court this week, VanRenan pleaded guilty to the theft charge in exchange for the dismissal of the criminal conduct charge.

The charges were related to a 2016 special investigation conducted by Iowa State Auditor Mary Mosiman.

In the auditor’s report, released in August 2016, the investigation identified $39,599.38 of improper and unsupported disbursements, undeposited collections and forgone revenues.

The investigation specified the dates of March 1, 2014, through Sept. 30, 2015, when the landfill was under the VanRenan’s supervision.

The investigation reported $7,904.43 of improper disbursements identified, including $2,299.37 of purchases with a commission credit card, $2,100 of estimated excess fuel purchases with the commission’s fuel card and $1,612.50 of transportation costs improperly paid by Fremont County.

The report stated that there were two landfill credit cards held by VanRenan and another employee. After reviewing the credit card statements, it was determined the card held by the employee was not used much and purchases were deemed “reasonable.”

However, the card held by VanRenan was frequently used. Auditors found were several charges that were identified as “improper,” totaling roughly $2,300 with an additional $2,089 in “unsupported” charges.

A few of the improper charges included fuel purchases. VanRenan was to purchase fuel only at Casey’s General Store with a Casey’s fuel card. But the credit card statements included 41 charges from Casey’s General Store, Pilot, Shell Oil, Hamburg Oil and Cenex Cubbys totaling $1,894.

In addition, the statements had two purchases at Bohlen’s Farm Service in Percival; six purchases totaling $106.36 from restaurants including McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Wendy’s; 23 purchases from Apple iTunes store and three purchases from SAT-Tech LLC.

The investigation also showed undeposited collections of roughly $7,622 as well as payments for recycled pallets that were deposited into VanRenan’s personal bank account rather than the commission’s bank account.

Mosiman also reported the $21,450 of forgone revenue identified includes $1,450 of estimated reimbursements not received from the Department of Natural Resources and $20,000 of forgivable loan proceeds which have to be repaid to DNR as a result of not complying with program requirements.

The $2,622.85 of unsupported disbursements identified includes payments on a commission credit card and payments to vendors for which supporting documentation was not available. As a result, it was not possible to determine the propriety of the payments, according to the report.

Toward the end of the report, recommendations were added to strengthen the commission’s internal controls and overall operations. Improvements include a segregation of duties, review pertinent information and documentation prior to making decisions.

VanRenan resigned in September 2015.

In court Monday, VanRenan requested sentencing right away, and was given deferred judgement and two years of formal probation. He also was ordered to pay restitution and court costs.

Fremont County Attorney Brenna Bird said the amount of restitution is yet to be determined.

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