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Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012 07:32 pm

PAY UP

The federal government is demanding more than $61,000 from the Village of Jerome, the village treasurer has resigned and more trouble could be coming.

In an Oct. 25 letter to village officials, an administrator from the U.S. Department of Justice gave the village 60 days to repay monies spent from a drug-seizure fund for telephone bills, “miscellaneous expenses” and “general bills” A federal review of village finances also found that the village had used more than $10,000 from the fund to purchase radio equipment despite receiving a state grant of more than $9,400 for the same gear.

The fund is comprised of monies seized by a federal drug task force that includes a village police officer. Seizure funds must be spent for law enforcement.

Jennifer Hammer, an attorney for the village who spoke with Department of Justice officials, said that officials told her that other agencies are concerned.

“There are other issues by other agencies with other federal money received by the village,” Hammer said at a Nov. 1 village board meeting. Hammer said she had no details on what else the feds might be investigating.

Mayor Harry Stirmell told residents that $50,000 in disputed spending went for a police officer’s salary. He added that he doesn’t know of any federal money received by Jerome aside from the seizure fund and disaster relief money spent after a 2006 tornado.

The day after the meeting, Carey Bayless, village treasurer, submitted his resignation. In his letter of resignation, Bayless wrote that he has acted in accordance with direction set by auditors and the village board.

“That said, I…have growing concerns about the financial decisions being made, and accordingly submit my resignation,” Bayless wrote.
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