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Audit Finds Fraud, Theft At Utah Schools For The Deaf And Blind

Officials with the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind want to see a former employee accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the schools’ accounts prosecuted and the money restored.

A state audit released Tuesday shows more than $67,000 went missing from the schools’ donation and state appropriations funds over the past four years.  State Auditor John Dougall says the schools’ former financial analyst is likely to blame.

“I find it very callous that someone would steal funds donated to help deaf and blind students,” Dougall says. “I mean this is above and beyond what we normally see in a theft.”

USDB Superintendent Joel Coleman asked Dougall to look into the schools financials this spring when he suspected a former employee had misappropriated funds and falsified documents.

Coleman took over as Superintendent of the USDB three years ago this month. Dougall says Coleman’s administration has since improved operations and financial oversight.  

“They did a significant job of cleaning things up and that’s partly what caused the detection of what they thought was a possible theft,” Dougall says.

Coleman says this account had been audited twice before and no fraud was ever detected.  

“That’s kind of a testament to how tricky this person was,” Coleman says.

Much of the stolen money was to be used to build an outdoor education center. Coleman says 67,000 out of a $36 million budget won’t significantly impact operations, but he worries it will affect the institutions credibility with potential donors.

“I hope that’s not the case,” Coleman says. “And that we can reassure them that in fact we have the controls and policies in place so that this won’t happen again.”

Coleman says the alleged thief has been reported to the Ogden City Police and the Utah Attorney General’s office. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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