Chesterton Tribune



State Board of Accounts investigated former Portage clerk-treasurer Stidham

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The criminal charge of official misconduct filed late last month in Porter Superior Court against former Portage clerk-treasurer Chris Stidham followed an investigation conducted by the State Board of Accounts (SBA) at the request of a special committee appointed by former Portage mayor John Cannon.

According to a summary of that investigation by SBA, dated Nov. 12, 2019, several irregularities were discovered in Stidham’s Accounts Payable Vouchers (APVs):

--In 2015 and 2016, Stidham made payments to three vendors--Keeping the Books, E.R.G. Advisors, and Paramount Technology Solutions--owned and operated by Rachel Glass. “Stidham and Glass had a personal relationship during the time period that payments were made to the three companies,” SBA said.

--Payments made in 2015 to these three companies totaled $28,416.16; and in 2016, $30,000. In 2015, one of the 11 APVs for goods or services received from the three companies was not authorized, as required, by the Portage Board of Public Works. In 2016, only one of eight APVs was authorized by the Board of Public Works, SBA said.

--Among the services provided by the three companies was “bank reconcilements.” The total amount paid for bank reconcilements in 2016 was $8,000. SBA subsequently determined that the 2016 bank reconcilements were not prepared monthly but in fact were prepared in January 2018. Based on that finding, SBA said, “it is our position that the city paid for services not received” and accordingly has “requested Stidham reimburse the city $8,000 for disbursing funds without authority and for services not rendered.”

SBA is also asking Stidham to reimburse the costs of its investigation, totaling $6,564.55.

Other findings by SBA relating to Glass’ three companies:

--“There were no written contracts describing the services to be performed, terms of the contracts, and the rates to be paid.”

--“The minutes of the (Board of Public Works) did not include its approval of any contracts with the three companies.”

--“An invoice dated Nov. 6, 2015, described the work as ‘August, September, October 2016 bank recs’; thus, the city would have paid in advance for services not yet performed.”

--“Invoices did not include pertinent information such as dates that the work was performed and lacked sufficient detail of services. Only a total number of hours was included.”

--“Only one check out of the eight checks issued in 2016 was posted to the ledger. All others, totaling $26,000, were posted as an adjustment at the conclusion of the 2016 audit.”

--“Six invoices were mathematically incorrect when compared to the amount of check issued, with the check issued being either more or less than the computed invoice amounts.”

The SBA report notes that an investigation of Stidham’s activities “is being conducted by a special prosecutor and the Indiana State Police,” and adds that its report “was forwarded to the Office of the Indiana Attorney General and the appointed special prosecuting attorney.”



Posted 3/3/2020






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