The Salt Lake County auditor has called for a criminal investigation into a retired library accountant accused of skimming $40,000 from a government account over seven years.
Although the accountant returned much of that money before he was caught, auditor Greg Hawkins says an estimated $10,000 remains unaccounted for.
"I'm heart-sickened that this would happen," said Library Director Jim Cooper, who described the employee as a 30-year veteran.
District Attorney Sim Gill confirmed Wednesday that he is considering the case and will determine by early next week whether to file charges.
The suspected thefts began in April 2003 and continued until late 2009. They were linked to an accountant who withdrew an estimated $40,000 in small sums from the library's expense account, according to the Auditor's Office. The accountant, who has not been identified, went undetected until his retirement, when his replacement couldn't explain the discrepancies.
An internal audit revealed that the employee had made numerous withdrawals and deposits during that seven-year period, taking money and repaying some of it. The county remains about $10,000 short.
"It is our intention," Hawkins said, "to work diligently with other elected officials to bring to light any breach of the public trust."
The revelation comes amid other financial scandals: Cottonwood Heights police Officer and former sheriff's candidate Beau Babka has been charged with two third-degree felonies for allegedly using a city gas card to fill up personal vehicles; a Salt Lake County environmental health worker now faces a felony charge for allegedly taking $2,400 from a petty cash account; and a This Is the Place Heritage Park executive director was fired after allegedly stealing more than $240,000 from the park's foundation.
Neither Cooper nor Hawkins characterized the suspected library thefts as a symptom of a more systemic accounting problem.
However, Cooper said the library has taken action to ensure accounts are secure. For instance, he has hired a fiscal manager, created separate accounts for reimbursements to patrons and staff and imposed rules requiring two signatures on checks.
"We are taking the appropriate steps," he said.