GENESEE COUNTY — Missing funds of well over $300,000 and alleged misappropriation of funds designated by law for specific purposes have led Genesee County Clerk John Gleason and Register of Deeds (ROD) Roberta Sacharski to call for an independent audit of the fund and the county controller’s office.
According to both Gleason and Sacharski, she has conducted a preliminary audit since she began in March and has found the ROD technology fund is well short of what should be a $344,640 balance for the year.
This is based on Public Act 698 of 2002, which brought into law the requirement that $5 of every deed recorded was to be put into the technology fund to upgrade technology that is out of date and creates an inability to perform public searches.
“We’re in trouble, as a department, because I believe inappropriate actions have taken money out of this (fund),” Gleason said. “We have to have a very responsible discussion with the controller’s office and the leadership of the county board of commissioners.
“I want an independent review of…the Controller’s office,” Gleason stated. “The law is pretty clear that this money is supposed to be dedicated to the tech fund… (not) office supplies and salaries.”
Gleason also stated that he has met with employees of Keith Francis, the Controller’s office and have been openly told the fund is commonly known as a “slush fund” and has been so for years.
Following a lawsuit Gleason recently settled against the Genesee County Commissioner’s office, Gleason states as of last September, Francis was ordered to meet with him to review the ROD budget but the meeting has not happened yet.
The State Attorney General was also notified of the irregularities in the financing of the department via letter, according to the clerk, but they have had no response. Now he wants the Michigan State Police, or some other outside agency to do a complete audit.
In addition to managing the various county department budgets, Francis is also supposed to prepare a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report which is given to the State of Michigan Treasury and Gleason believes this report has been misleading to say the least.
“Even one of (Francis’) own employees advised my staff that what was happening, should not be happening,” Gleason added. Sacharski said, “I’m concerned that there has been knowledge that the numbers don’t add up, that the funds have been inappropriately budgeted and spent, and that this has been going on for quite a long time.”
When Sacharski found the fund balance was “woefully inadequate” to support the purchase of new technology, she used her background as a lawyer to look at the law and create a preliminary investigation into the matter.