Thursday, October 1, 2020

Probe finds no ‘missing money’ in Sumpter Township

Allegations of missing funds from the treasurer's office in Sumpter Township made by the successful Democratic candidate for office remain unsubstantiated, despite an independent investigation by township attorney Rob Young.

During a recent meeting of the board of trustees, Young detailed his efforts to find an basis for the claim made during the recent campaign by James Clark, the winner of the Democratic primary election for the treasurer's post.

Young told the trustees that he had undertaken the investigation at the request of Township Supervisor John W. Morgan who was concerned about the erroneous allegation. Young said that as part of his detailed probe, he sent letters of inquiry to each and every board members and staff members at township hall, asking if they were aware of, or knew of, any missing funds from township accounts or offices.

He said that an inquiry letter also went to current Treasurer Kenneth Bednark, who opted not to seek reelection. Bednark has not appeared at township hall since February, according to officials, although he continues to collect his $19,000 annual salary. In February, Bednark informed the board members and Morgan that he would be working from home due to personal and professional obligations.

Young told the board of trustees that the responses he received to the letter of inquiry about missing funds were unanimous in denying that any such situation exists and that none of the respondents, including the township auditor, reported being aware of any missing funds. 

Township officials have stated that there have been two independent audits of township funds within the past year and that no missing funds or financial irregularities were found by the auditors.

Young said that any valid information he receives from the public or other sources about any missing funds will be immediately turned over to the Sumpter Police Department or the Michigan State Police for further investigation. He told the board members that he would attempt to contact, or “reach out” to Clark regarding the situation.

Morgan said he appreciated Young's efforts.

 “Those who work here know the allegations are false,” Morgan said,”but we cannot ignore that they have been made and must investigate. Take the next step as you see fit,” he instructed Young.