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Auditor’s Report: Former Nonprofit Director Stole School Lunch Money

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The State Auditor says a special investigation her office conducted of the School Nutrition Association of Iowa was requested by officials of the association. The concerns the officials had were over financial transactions made by the association's former Executive Director, Norma LaMantia.

"Approximately three years ago, the Board Members of the Association became concerned, because they did not receive financial information from their executive director as they had requested," explained Mary Mosiman, Auditor of State.

Mosiman says even though the association is a nonprofit, her office had jurisdiction to investigate it, "because this is an Association that`s funded mainly with tax dollars, with fees and dues that are directly from Iowa School Districts, so we went in and performed the investigation detailed within this report."

LaMantia was the Association's Executive Director for about a decade, but the report looks at a six year period during that time (January 1, 2010 through July 31, 2016), detailing only transactions that could be verified through documentation.

'home depot, lowe`s, premier brick and stone so things that are not anything to do with the association

The report lists a variety of vendors and checks written that had nothing to do with the Association or providing meals to students. Instead, the investigation identified nearly $167,000 of undeposited collections, and uncovered money that was deposited into various private bank accounts by LaMantia.

It also revealed LaMantia's gambling problem.

The following excerpt is found on page 12 of the report: "When Ms. LaMantia was asked during the interview on May 12, 2017 why the account was opened and then closed just a few months later, she stated 'Because I was, I was trying to get this gambling problem under control, I was trying to, to get my personal finances under control and my, my gambling problem...'"

Mosiman says the report underscores the need for oversight.

"Typically in organizations such as this and even in cities and school districts, there is frequently just one person who handles financial transactions, but that`s why the internal controls, the oversight, the checks and balances have to take place by the members providing the authority."

Mosiman says recommendations for more oversight have been given to the association's Executive Board Members.

"One of the things that we ask is that they look at the bank statements, they actually maybe even have the bank statements sent to one of them versus only the Executive Director receiving that document."

Mosiman says keeping a segregation of duties with that particular step is key.

“If somebody who is handling all the collections and all of the deposits is separate from the individual who looks at the bank statement, that provides a measure of control."

Copies of the report have been filed with the Davenport Police Department, the Division of Criminal Investigation, the Scott County Attorney's Office, and the Attorney General's Office. Mosiman says it will be up to the local authorities to determine whether criminal charges are appropriate.