What Did UFA Audit Reveal in Misuse of Funds?

The Office of the State Auditor released audits of the Unified Fire Authority and Unified Fire Service Area Wednesday. 

The audit details the former Chief and former Deputy Chief's misuse of funds including:

  • Increased compensation
  • Billing UFA for personal travel expenses
  • Excessive Technology assets for personal use
  • Use of electronic devices for personal or unallowable uses (including porn).

The state auditor is suggesting a criminal investigations of  former Unified Fire Authority Chief Michael Jensen and his former deputy, Gaylord Scott.

State Auditor John Dougall said the findings showed what he called a culture of excess.

"Who basically saw this as an opportunity to where they were entitled they felt like they should have certain things, said Dougall.

The state points to incentive bonuses given to Jensen and three other supervisors that totaled nearly $400 thousand over a five year period.

Jensen claimed in August when he stepped down those bonuses were for extra work being done that would have normally required extra staff. On Wednesday he claimed those were given the go ahead by the board.

"Every incentive I was given the chair of the board signed every single one of those," said Jensen.

He claims there are inaccuracies in the report. Although because he only saw it when it was released he didn't answer specific questions about what it intailed.

Dougall disputes those claims.

"For the chief to claim there was a system in place, this was a system that violated his employment agreement, violated the boards adoption of their budget," said Gougall. "It was a way to circumvent it, was improper, and potentially illegal."

The audit recommend a review for possible criminal charges.

For it's part the UFA board admitted it should have done more, and said their focus is gaining back the trust of taxpayers. Since the audit began they've started implementing new changes to prevent future issues.

The following statement was released by Battalion Chief Steve Prokopis:

UFA Releases Internal Audit and Receives State Audit Unified Fire Authority (UFA) today released its own internal audit and also received results of a two-part audit performed by the Office of the State Auditor, which reviewed UFA and Unified Fire Service Area (UFSA). The internal and state audits reviewed a wide spectrum of internal controls, policies, procedures and interaction between the UFA and UFSA Boards, made up of several local elected officials, and UFA’s former executive management.

UFA Board Vice Chair Chris Pengra said, “As Board members, we take our oversight responsibilities very seriously and know we can be better. We are still reviewing the audits and will look to find ways to improve our communication and oversight of UFA. While many changes and improvements have already been implemented, we will continue developing better ways to ensure the residents of the communities in our areas receive the absolute best service.”

“An audit is a healthy process for any organization to go through,” UFA Fire Chief Dan Petersen said. “We are grateful for the work the auditors did in finding areas we can improve and will immediately begin work on evaluating the recommendations. The Firefighters delivering emergency service to the community never reduced their commitment to the community. he men and women riding the engines continued to deliver high quality service throughout all these administrative challenges” 

To review the internal audit click here. For the State Audit of the UFA click here, for the State Audit UFSA click here.


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