No criminal charges filed against Morrison County Commissioner | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

No criminal charges filed against Morrison County Commissioner

Posted: September 12, 2012 - 10:45pm

Criminal charges will not be brought against Morrison County Commissioner Donald Meyer who was accused of collecting per diem payments that he was not entitled to, it was learned Wednesday.

Sherburne County attorney Kathleen Heaney issued a letter Tuesday to Morrison County that the investigation of the allegations was complete and she found that the evidence was not sufficient to proceed with any criminal prosecution against Meyer relating to per diem payments paid through serving on the South Country Health Alliance (SCHA) Board. The investigation was conducted to determine whether chargers were warranted for the theft of public funds or unauthorized compensation of a public officer.

In a press release issued by Morrison County Administrator Deb Gruber, Heaney stated there was a thorough and prompt investigation.

Gruber said “Now that the Sherburne County attorney has issued her decision and declined criminal charges, the county board can begin the process of reviewing the recommendations made by the state auditor in her letter dated, July 13, 2012.”

Gruber had no other comment on the findings of Heaney’s investigation.

Calls were made to Meyer’s home, but were not returned.

Meyer, who has represented District 4 for more than 20 years, has served as the county’s representative on the SCHA board since 2007, when the county joined the alliance. SCHA is a county-based purchasing program that 12 counties are a part of, including Morrison. It is governed by a Joint Powers Board comprised of one individual from each county.

The investigation began when the Minnesota Office of the State Auditor (OSA) reviewed per diem payments made by SCHA and whether county commissioners receiving SCHA per diems also received per diems from their respective counties. SCHA pays $125 per diem for each day or part of a day spent in any SCHA meeting. Morrison County established a per diem of $55 per day paid by the county for all county meetings attended by county board members.

OSA issued a 9-page letter dated July 13 to the Morrison County Board of Commissioners.

In the letter, OSA reviewed per diem payments from the time period of Nov. 13, 2006, through March 26, 2012 where it found that on one occasion in 2008, and on one in 2007, Meyer received one per diem from SCHA and one from the county for SCHA-related meetings on the same day. The county paid a total of $110 for the two per diems and SCHA paid him a total of $250 for those meetings.

The state auditor’s office also found that on 34 occasions during this time period, Meyer received one per diem payment from SCHA and one per diem payment from the county for a non-SCHA meeting held on the same day. The county paid a total of $1,870 for the 34 meetings and SCHA paid a total of $4,250.

The auditor’s office also found that on 28 occasions during the time period, Meyer received a per diem from SCHA for SCHA meetings one per diem payment from the county for non-SCHA meeting held on the same day. The county paid a total of $1,540 and SCHA paid $3,500 for the same 28 per diem payments.

OSA also found no evidence during its review that the same expenses, such as the cost of mileage, lodging or meals were paid by both SCHA and the county.

OSA also observed that on several occasions, no receipts or summary receipts were submitted by Meyer as support for meal expense reimbursement request or county credit card purchases.

According to state law, a county commissioner may only be paid one per diem per day, regardless of the number of meetings attended on the county’s behalf during the day.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl.