McCLEARY, Wash. -- A state audit claims a City of McCleary employee may have stolen more than $450,000 from city accounts.
The thefts occurred between 2005 and 2010.
Investigators linked the then-utility manager to $53,000 in missing funds, but Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag said the woman may be responsible for another $403,000 in missing city funds.
According to the audit, the employee pocketed cash payments made at City Hall, doctored checks and took funds from the utility accounts of residents who passed away.
The audit said the City of McCleary needed to increase oversight over employees.
“There was just no one checking on the person responsible for all these financial responsibilities,” said Sonntag, a Democrat.
“I was appalled,” said McCleary Mayor Gary Dent, who fired the employee in April of 2010 when he said he first learned of the accusations.
Dent said several employees now handle the checks and cash sent to City Hall, a policy change from 2010.
“The way they were structured,” said Dent. “It was really hard to catch any of this.”
The employee is also under a criminal investigation by the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office.
KING 5 News is not identifying the employee unless she is charged with a crime. A sheriff’s spokesperson said the woman could face felony theft charges.