Grand County: Most of missing funds unrecovered | SkyHiNews.com

Grand County: Most of missing funds unrecovered

Hank Shell
hshell@skyhidailynews.com

Grand County has been unable to recover more than $300,000 in county funds that went missing from the county building department, county officials said.

The county has since filed an insurance claim with its provider, Hiscox Insurance Company Inc., for $315,599, said County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran.

It is unclear whether the insurance company will reimburse the full amount, Curran said, though representatives from accounting firm Alvarez & Marsal stated in June that insurance would not cover all of the county's losses.

County officials had held off on presenting the insurance company with a number until July, when officials believed they had a number reflective of what the county could not recover, Curran said.

To date, the county has recovered $200,042.

More than $500,000 in county funds went missing from the building department during a period of 12 years. The missing money was discovered during budget discussions in late 2013.

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Former building department employee Brigid Irish was arrested in May and charged with four counts of theft, one county of attempting to influence a public servant, 12 counts of forgery and 915 counts of embezzlement of public property.

A subsequent forensic accounting investigation by accounting firm Alvarez & Marsal concluded that the misappropriated funds totaled $565,323.32. Officials with Alvarez & Marsal said they believed that checks for building permits weren't stolen, but rather cash payments were stolen while checks simply weren't deposited.

No cash was deposited from the building department to the treasurer's office from Jan. 1, 2005, to Oct. 30, 2013.

The county was able to recover a majority of the money that went missing in 2013.

Because the county belongs to a pooled insurance policy, it is unclear whether the county's insurance rates will rise as a result of the claim, Curran said.

"We may not see any effect at all, but we don't know," she said. "That's the advantage of being in that pool."

The county is unsure when it will know what amount will be covered by insurance, Curran said.

Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.

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