State Funds Mishandled

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On Wednesday the Auditors Office released findings of the investigation into the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. The program was established in 2000 to provide tobacco education and tobacco use prevention. Funding comes from a state tobacco settlement.

In a newly released report the State Auditor says more than $1 million for the program were mishandled.

“When we tried to track down what had happened to grant money: contracts weren’t signed, documentation was missing for expense reimbursements, thousands of dollars without documentation,” said State Auditor Kate Witek.

Most of the mishandling falls under the responsibility of the former director Rock Mueller. Mueller has a criminal history dating back to a 1987 theft conviction. He also has felony convictions from 1998 for theft by unlawful taking and theft by deception.

State Auditor Kate Witek says Mueller made a questionable contracting decision probably a breach of ethics.

“He was receiving money from the company that he picked. He was receiving $80,000 a year to do what they call employee outreach in addition to his salary at Health and Human Services,” said Witek.

HHS did ask the State Auditors office to conduct the investigation. They discovered some financial irregularities and Mueller was removed from the job. HHS declined to comment for this story.

The Auditors Office handed their documents over to the State Patrol and the FBI. The State Patrol says it is an ongoing investigation.