AMERICAN FORK The former mayor of Eagle Mountain, on trial for misusing public money, testified Wednesday that his secretary created reimbursement forms and he just signed them without stopping to verify if he had actually attended the meetings described.
"Isn't it true that (on) each of the mileage reimbursement forms, your signature is on those?" prosecutor Chad Grunander asked Brian Olsen, who faces seven felonies for misusing public funds.
"My signature is on those," Olsen agreed.
"(Did) you review each of those requests," Grunander asked.
"No, sir, I did not," Olsen said.
"But you should have known at the time you cashed the check that you had not attended at least one of the events that you were being paid back for as part of that check," Grunander said.
"I should have known," Olsen said. "I should have known that money I had received was for things I was not able to attend."
Olsen spent several hours on the stand Wednesday, testifying about his role as mayor of Eagle Mountain and what he had been told relative to policies and procedures dealing with travel reimbursements.
He testified that his executive assistant Angie Ferre would create mileage reimbursements based off an electronic calendar system where meetings and conferences were scheduled.
"When you traveled or when you stayed at a hotel or bought a meal, to get reimbursed for it, what was your understanding ... about what you were supposed to do?" asked defense attorney Ron Yengich.
"I was told I didn't have to worry about it, that my assistant would take care of it," Olsen said.
"Whose responsibility ultimately was that?" Yengich asked.
"Angie Ferre," he said.
"What was your responsibility?" Yengich asked
"I could have watched that a lot more closely, (rather) than just having it submitted in my behalf," he said.
Olsen said there was one day last September that he was handed a stack of reimbursements to sign and he, under request from staff, signed them all.
"Is it important to look at a document before you sign it, is it reasonable to expect that someone would read (a document)?" Grunander asked.
"That is reasonable to expect," Olsen said.
The former senior accountant in Eagle Mountain, Glen Sexton, testified earlier Wednesday that he had written parts of the Eagle Mountain policies and procedures manual, including those on travel reimbursements.
In that policy, it stated that any reimbursements or advance payments had to have the signature of the traveler, the department head and someone in the finance department before a check could be issued.
For the mayor, his checks would be approved by the city administrator.
If for some reason, a person cashed an advanced reimbursement, but didn't actually end up going to the meeting or conference, was there a statement in the policy about how to deal with that? Yengich asked.
"No, I think it was left to common sense," Sexton said.
"Was it contemplated that if it happened, a person could pay the city back?" Yengich asked.
Sexton said yes, although added it wasn't implicitly stated.
Sexton said he never saw Olsen's requests and when he later did, he said he believed there were inconsistencies and errors with how the forms were filled out and that they were lacking necessary signatures.
"Assuming that's the case," asked prosecutor Craig Johnson, "Would that absolve the mayor from filing requests for reimbursements for ... conferences he did not attend?"
After a pause, Sexton said, "It would be an error."
Yengich countered with, "If there's an error, such as that, can it be brought to the attention of the individual for resolution?""Absolutely," Sexton replied and added it had been done for other employees.
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