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Ravalli County Commission Waiting for Audit Results

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Ravalli County Commission discusses the Swandal report. (Fullerton Photo)

Taking a cue from Ravalli County Attorney Bill Fulbright, the Ravalli County Commission is not making any further decisions regarding County Treasurer Valerie Stamey until an independent audit is completed by the firm Anderson ZurMuehlen & Co, PC.

Thursday, at a meeting of the commissioners, Fulbright read a summary of the investigation performed by former judge Nels Swandal. The independent investigation was requested when Stamey leveled accusations of corruption at various county employees and commissioners.

Some of the conclusions:

  • There was no evidence of criminal activity in the Treasurer’s Office.
  • There were no illegal sales of tax deeds, though there were two notification delays.
  • There was no evidence of corruption by county commissioners, and the commissioners don’t have the authority to prevent the treasurer’s access to county bank accounts, which Stamey alleged.
  • Swandal found nothing to substantiate a charge of missing records, receipts or files.
  • Ravalli County Treasurer’s Office “did not act as a team” and there was obvious tension during Stamey’s appointment. However, Swandal said Stamey should have made more of an effort to learn the duties of treasurer.
  • Stamey declined to be interviewed by Swandal.
  • Swandal also said the process used by the commissioners when they appointed Stamey as Treasurer would have been helped by a more complete background check.Deputy County Attorney Howard Recht said that official misconduct is a vague term in Montana law, but that neglect or refusal to perform job duties probably would fall inside the civil misconduct definition.

    The commission had earlier voted to sue Stamey $500 for each report that was not filed during her time in the office. However, the County Attorney’s office has not yet filed the suit.

    Fulbright said he was being cautious in a case he expects to last several years and is waiting for the final results of an independent audit of the county money. He also advised the commission to hold off on any action involving Stamey until the audit is complete.

    Stamey attended Thursday’s meeting, and took notes, but made no statements to the commission. She remains on paid administrative leave.

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also conducting an investigation, at Stamey’s request.

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