The Utah County Commission has approved payment of about $13,000 in questionable expenditures made by former Timpanogos Community Mental Health employees, but commissioners say they hope to recuperate the funds from those who ran up the bills.
"We're not really in favor of what transpired," Commission Chairman Malcolm Beck said. But the commission has decided to pay off creditors, he said, and hopes to recuperate the money later via lawsuits against former Timp Mental Health officials.Last month, commissioners withheld approval of paying a $3,900 long-distance phone bill commisioners believe includes numerous personal calls charged to a Timp Mental Health Center telephone credit card. According to the credit card bill, some officials continued using the card following their suspension from the center after the $3.5 million Timp scandal broke in April.
Also last month, commissioners refused to approve $8,904 in purchases made by former administrators on an American Express credit card account. Items charged to the card included a personal computer, dress shoes and sports clothing.
"We're not just rubber stamping bills over there," Beck said. "How they got by with doing what they were doing for so long, I'll never know. They had one of the poorest systems in the world."
Beck said he feels that eight class-action complaints filed in a civil suit in May against former Timp Mental Health officials will allow the county to hold those officials accountable for the monies they supervised. The suit accuses former Executive Director Glen Brown, Youth Program Director Carl V. Smith and Finance Director Craig W. Stephens of conspiring to defraud the center.
Eight center administrators were suspended last spring following allegations they mismanaged public funds at the center. A legislative audit released in April showed that the administrators paid themselves more than $3.5 million above their base salaries the past four years. Part of the alleged abuse of tax dollars included double billing from use of Timp credit cards.