The purchase of a new lawn mower turned into an investigation by Nebraska State Auditor Mike Foley. Last July the Fort Calhoun City Council approved the purchase of a new mower for city use. Foley says the City Council authorized the purchase of a new lawn tractor with the understanding the old one would be traded in as part of the deal. The old one never did get traded in and ended up on the property of Steven Becker.
At the time, Steven Becker worked as the Maintenance Supervisor for the city of Fort Calhoun. Auditor Mike Foley says his office then received a call from Mayor Mitch Robinson and requested they conduct an investigation.
Foley says they started looking at receipts for vehicle repairs, replacement parts, supplies and other products. Some of them were handwritten by Becker. Investigators determined that many of the parts were not compatible with city owned vehicles. Foley says, “We found thousands of dollars of purchases for boats and boat trailers and vehicles and so-forth that the city did not own. So, apparently what Mr. Becker was doing was using city funds to make purchases for personal use. We’ve now filed a formal complaint with Mr. Becker with the Accountability and Disclosure Commission and we allege he used his city position for personal gain.” That amount totals just under $5,000.
Foley says Becker signed off on other purchases but auditors and the city are not sure what for. That total was for just over $2,000.
Steven Becker has been charged with theft for the lawn mower. Other charges are pending.
Foley’s office found the city of Fort Calhoun lacked appropriate internal controls that include invoices not properly reviewed or verified, files not kept on vehicle maintenance performed and various items purchased were not included on an inventory list.