Franklin County Launches Criminal Investigation with Riverton Audit

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HASTINGS, Neb. -- A small village of less than 100 people in south-central Nebraska was surprised to hear its former clerk is accused in an audit of stealing upwards of $30,000.

The auditor of public accounts said several Riverton residents were concerned about the handling of the village's finances.

A 90-page audit released by the state auditor states it found "possibly fraudulent" transactions in a 15-month span, mostly revolved around the former city clerk between October 2013 and Jan. 31, 2015.

"I can't believe it," said Riverton resident Ethel Brush. "I've known her since she was a baby and [saw] her grow up. I think she really wouldn't do that."

Franklin County Attorney Henry Shanker said his office is pursuing a criminal investigation though no charges have been filed yet against the former clerk, Kelly Jackson.

He says another investigation could be launched to look at the years leading up to the audit since Jackson worked for the village since 2006.

"I have to pay my bill. I just pay it [and] I don't question it," Brush said. "And so I would hope they wouldn't be overcharging me and doing fraud like that."

We knocked on Jackson's door several times on Monday but got no answer.

According to the audit, the $30,816 in possible fraudulent transactions state Jackson allegedly paid herself more than what was her approved salary; and there were non-deposited utility cash receipts and hundreds in undocumented petty cash payments.

There was an instance when the village recorded purchasing 32,000 ounces of bleach for the water supply but a test done by the Department of Health and Human Services states there was no bleach used to treat the water, according to the audit.

Plus, Jackson's husband worked as the designated water operator for the village. The audit alleges he was overpaid more than $10,000 and he wrote a letter of resignation to the DHHS in March 2015.

We asked residents what $30,000 means to their small community.

"It means a whole heck of a lot because there aren't many here and that would raise everything up," Brush said. "It would raise all of our water bills up and everything."

The board chair, Mike Lammers, did answer his door for NBC Nebraska but had no comment.

The audit states his board is being looked at for not keeping meeting minutes and other records, which is against state law, and for "wholly insufficient monitoring and oversight of its finances."

Riverton had not been audited since 2007. State Auditor Charlie Janssen said the office looks into cases when the office receives a tip to its fraud line or if an auditor notices a problem.

Janssen says about 50 auditors cover 2,700 political subdivisions. He said his office revamping its audit process by working with the legislature to have the proper staff in place to cover as much of the area as possible.