Scott County Attorney Kelly Cunningham said the investigation into spending in the city of Eldridge could result in a complicated case.
On Thursday, Iowa State Comptroller Rob Sand released a report on a special investigation into spending in the city of Eldridge, according to a Sandoz office news release.
The city of Eldridge requested the report due to concerns over “certain financial transactions” handled by former city employee Dennis Benson, according to the release.
“When it comes to white-collar cases in general, you know, they are just like any other crime. It all depends on what investigative resources you need to follow from start to finish,” Cunningham told Local 4 News.
White-collar crime is non-violent crime involving deceptive financial transactions. (For example, embezzlement, money laundering, and corporate fraud are white collar crimes.)
Multiple agencies are involved in the Eldridge case. The Scott County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement saying it was investigating Mr. Benson “on the basis of financial crimes,” and that the Iowa State Comptroller’s Office was supporting the investigation.
“Multiple agencies may be involved in any type of investigation,” Cunningham told Local 4 News. “And it depends on the special circumstances that exist.”
“Criminal subjects may require a certain degree of expertise,” said Cunningham. “So we will be reaching out to bodies that have expertise on the subject and can bring that expertise to help with the investigation itself.”
The report covers the period from 1 January 2017 to 31 October 2022. Mr. Sand reported that the special investigation identified $76,171.90 of improper spending and $8,718.18 of unsubstantiated spending.
Sandoz also reported that the inappropriate spending identified included sales taxes, late fees, and finance charges on the city’s credit cards.
The identified unsupported spending of $8,718.18 includes $6,325.76 in purchases made on the City’s credit card and $2,392.42 in payments from the City’s checking account, according to the announcement. “These credit card charges and payments were not properly documented to determine whether they were for city business or if they were of a personal nature,” Sand said. We were unable to determine the adequacy of this credit card charge and payment.”
“As a prosecutor, I cannot serve the investigative function,” Cunningham said. “Thus, the law enforcement agency tasked with the investigation will handle all aspects of the investigation.”
Improper spending identified includes:
- Personal purchases made with a city credit card $42,384.74
- $1,138.89 of fraudulent salary payments issued to Benson and related payroll costs
- Benson’s Capital One Credit Card Bill Payment $16,515.15
- $16,133.12 in payments to other vendors by check or online payment.
Local 4 News will continue to follow this case as it develops.