This looks like a case of outright theft and a cover up in Mercer, but I hope that all members of elected government take note of the charges stemming from the destruction of public records.
Criminal complaints filed Friday in Iron County Circuit Court say the Mercer School Board sent a letter to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction last May to explain questions that came up from an audit by DPI.
DPI clawed back around $175,000 from the district last year for inappropriately spending money from its “Fund 80” account that reserves money for community programs and services, according to a DPI letter dated June 26, posted on the blog Mercer School Facts. The agency found the fund was used without proper documentation to increase wages and benefits for a few district employees, including district administrator Erik Torkelson.
Deanna Pierpont, Denise Thompson, Michele “Micki” Holmstrom, Colleen “Kelly” Kohegyi, and Noel Brandt all signed a May 1 letter providing details on how money was spent from the fund, according to the complaints.
“The other three that were school board members, held a meeting, submitting this letter, knowing that it wasn’t the school board — that there were two individuals on there that weren’t part of the school board,” Tingstad said.
Pierpont, Holmstrom and Brandt are charged with felony misconduct in office, and Thompson and Kohegyi are charged with felony falsely exercising a role of public office.
Tingstad said the five are facing felony charges that could bring up to a $10,000 fine or three years in prison.
In addition, former school board president Deanna Pierpont is facing an additional misconduct charge after telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she erased a video of a school board meeting.