Alvo Fire Chief accused of misusing funds
After an approved audit waiver of the 2018 fiscal year for the Village of Alvo, Nebraska, state auditor Charlie Janssen found that Alvo Fire Chief Ben Glantz had misused Fire Department’s public money for personal reasons, including to pay a portion of his mortgage.
In a letter to the village of Alvo on January 2nd, the Auditor of Public Accounts states “The APA’s examination of the records for the Alvo Fire Department c/o Ben Glantz bank account revealed that Mr. Glantz and his wife Taylor Glantz appeared to have used this account to make personal purchases with public money.”
The following table offers a brief summary of the suspected improper transactions involving the Alvo Fire Department c/o Ben Glantz bank account, as identified by the APA, for the period January 1, 2018, through September 10, 2019: (see above image).
The letter includes a breakdown of suspected misuse of public funds, inappropriate receipt of funds, possible conflicts of interest, payment of unapproved claims and issues with the audit waiver request form.
Among the misuse of public funds, the APA found 4 large electronic payments in October 2018 totaling $5,141.41. All four payments appear to be on behalf of personal matters from the Glantz’ including a payment to Home Point Financial, a mortgage lender, totaling $3,828.39.
On December 16, 2019, an investigator with the State Patrol along with APA staff, met with Ben Glantz. In response to the mortgage payment made on the Fire Department’s account, Glantz replied, “I was in a bad place . . . Life was pretty thin then, it really was tough.”
The APA also found 3 questionable checks/reimbursements, none of which were approved or documented properly. The letter states, “On June 12, 2019, Mr. Glantz had deposited a $1,080 check from the Lancaster Event Center for services provided by the Department. One day later, a check was written out to Ben Glantz for $1,088,” then continues “Services provided by the department should be deposited into the Village bank accounts.”
The APA also found that Glantz applied for a debit card through the Fire Department’s bank account, and transactions between August 10, 2018 and September 10, 2019, totaled $10,015.21. The letter states “the card had been used at least 150 times. Twenty-seven of those transactions were submitted to the Village for
reimbursement; however, the majority of the debit card transactions appear to be personal in nature based on the vendors. . . Based on the limited documentation available, the APA questions all of the debit card transactions that were not submitted to the Village for reimbursement, which totals $10,015.21.”
Debit card transactions also included purchases from Amazon, Menards, Kansas City Royals Stadium, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Burger King, Casey’s, Dollar General, McDonald’s, Target, Taco Inn, Home Depot and the Tack Room, a bar in Lincoln.
The letter continues to note that potential statutory concerns, including theft by deception, abuse of public record and official misconduct, all of which are class II misdemeanors.
For the full letter from the Auditor of Public Accounts to the Village of Alvo board, you can view it here.