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Audit finds funds misuse at Iowa garbage collection agency

December 19, 2019 GMT
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Iowa Auditor of State Rob Sand announces the findings of a special investigation with the FBI into $2 million of improper and unsupported disbursements at Metro Waste Authority on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (Brian Powers/The Des Moines Register via AP)
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Iowa Auditor of State Rob Sand announces the findings of a special investigation with the FBI into $2 million of improper and unsupported disbursements at Metro Waste Authority on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (Brian Powers/The Des Moines Register via AP)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Auditor Rob Sand said Thursday his office has uncovered misuse of at least $1.8 million by a former employee of the organization the collects trash in Des Moines and more than a dozen other communities in central Iowa.

Sand said the state auditor’s office was contacted in October 2018 by the Metro Waste Authority executive director who noticed financial irregularities.

Sand, who took office in January 2019, said his staff contacted the FBI after determining misuse of funds had occurred and worked with agents to investigate.

The audit discovered former Director of Operations Jeff Dworek had set up his own company to provide services to MWA without a bidding process and paid it more than $1 million. Sand said since MWA officials were unaware Dworek owned the company and he alone approved the invoices and deposited money into his bank accounts, the money is considered improper use of funds.

The use of another $458,000 paid to other vendors was considered improper because Dworek also had connections to them and accepted kickbacks.

Dworek resigned in March 2017. He has not been charged with any crime.

A spokewoman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment and Polk County Attorney John Sarcone said no state charges are currently pending.

MWA is run by Polk County and the cities that pay fees for its services under a cooperative agreement established in Iowa law that allows local governments to share services more efficiently.

Sand said the case points to the importance of public bidding for large expenditures and for such organizations to have more than one person with oversight over such spending.

MWA Executive Director Michael McCoy said he discovered and initially reported financial irregularities.

“This was a deliberate and elaborate scheme designed and carried out by a trusted former employee to misappropriate funds from the organization,” he said.

Dworek could not immediately be located for comment.