A Stansbury Service Area office manager faces three felony charges after allegedly using public funds to pay for cars, clothes, pizza and her son’s utility bills.
A probable cause statement filed by the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office accuses Tracey L. Schmidtke of using her position overseeing bills and financial transactions to embezzle tens of thousands of dollars from her employer over the past year.
The exact amount allegedly stolen is unknown, but Schmidtke, 59, admitted to a Tooele County officer that she created an unauthorized PayPal account using the Stansbury Service Area name, according to the probable cause statement. In just the past three months, she allegedly used the account to transfer $33,700 to her personal bank account.
She also used the PayPal account along with the service area’s credit card to buy more than $61,000 worth of items from Amazon, eHarmony, Domino’s, Stitch Fix, Twitch, Urban Outfitters and “many others” since May, according to the probable cause document, although Schmidtke “could not say” how much, exactly, she had bought.
“It’s been going on for some time, I’m not sure how long. We have a forensic accountant looking into all our books and records,” said Stansbury Service Area board chair Mike Johnson. “It will be a substantial amount, that’s all I’m going to say.”
Schmidtke also linked the service area’s checking account to her own, transferring money to cover her son’s bills in Oregon and to make vehicle payments, the probable cause statement alleges.
The service area works as a governing board for unincorporated Stansbury Park. The agency collects revenue from property taxes and user fees at facilities like clubhouses, swimming pools and golf courses. It has a total annual budget of about $2 million, Johnson said.
“This is not easy for an agency of our size to deal with,” he added. “In addition to the financial loss, you’ve got our manager and assistant manager spending all their time going through records and meeting with auditors instead of doing the work of the agency.”
A service area employee first noticed an issue with the district’s finances when he tried to purchase electrical equipment on Friday, Nov. 13.
“His service agency credit card was declined, so he went to the credit union to see why,” Johnson said. “That’s when we knew we had a problem.”
The Tooele County Sheriff’s Office arrested Schmidtke on Nov. 15, charging her with theft and fraudulent use of a financial transaction card, both second-degree felonies, as well as forgery, a third-degree felony. A judge set bail at $50,000, required Schmidtke to surrender her passport, barred her from hiding or selling any property, and ordered her to wear an ankle monitor.
Johnson said the former office manager was doctoring bank statements and invoices to cover her tracks. In addition to financial forensics, the board has commissioned an audit into the agency’s polices and procedures.
The board plans to meet in closed session on Tuesday, Dec. 8, to discuss preliminary findings of the review, if not the final results. Johnson said the report will be made public as soon as it’s finalized.
“It’s unfortunate it happened, we all feel horrible it happened, but now we’re trying to fix it the best we can,” he said. “My intent is transparency.”