Board: Former IU 4 chief authorized $110K of her charges, provided few receipts
By Bill Vidonic
Published: Friday, May 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Former Midwestern Intermediate Unit 4 Executive Director Cecelia Yauger personally authorized the IU to pay nearly $110,000 in charges to her IU credit card while providing few itemized receipts, according to documents the Tribune-Review obtained.
Auditors are trying to determine how much of the charges constituted personal expenses. Yauger charged the $110,000 between late 2007 and early 2013. Charges include Verizon charges, hotel rooms and purchases at restaurants, pharmacies, department stores and retail outlets, according to records supplied to the Tribune-Review through a Right-To-Know request.
Yauger did not return phone messages Thursday for comment.
Some purchases, including restaurant visits, were made on weekends, according to the records. Yauger charged two Redbox DVD rentals in Harrisburg for $2.12, according to the records.
The intermediate unit provides education services for physically and mentally handicapped students in Mercer, Lawrence and Butler counties.
Yauger resigned April 24, nearly a month after the board placed her on administrative leave after questions surfaced about her expense reimbursements.
Board solicitor Tim McNickle said Wednesday night after an IU board meeting that he reported the investigation to Grove City police, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General because the unit uses federal money. She has not been charged.
Yauger's attorney, Eugene P. Tempesta, of McCandless said he has not seen any audit results nor has he spoken to auditors at Hill, Barth and King in Hermitage, Mercer County.
“All I can say about Cecelia is that she didn't do anything wrong intentionally,” Tempesta said. “She gave 35 years of her life to the kids and the community.”
Auditors did not return phone messages Thursday.
Board policy allowed Yauger to approve her own expense accounts for payment, but IU board members said she overstepped her authority by supplying just a few itemized receipts. No number was given.
“Clearly she took advantage of her position,” said board President Cedric Butchy, representing Mercer Area School District said.
Yauger charged hotel rooms for herself and for other individuals, the records show. IU officials said at least some charges were for work-related trips.
An auditor is comparing the charges with Yauger's work schedule.
Unit officials briefed board members during an executive session Wednesday about the audit. Butchy and other officials would not say what it has uncovered.
The board approved a retirement agreement with Yauger on April 24, the day she resigned, allowing her to apply unused vacation and sick days, at a rate of $100 a day, toward any money she may owe the intermediate unit.
The number of vacation and sick days wasn't immediately available.
“The contract does say she's entitled to certain things,” Butchy said. “We're living by what her contract calls for.”
The IU board on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a policy change that strips the executive director of any authority to approve expense accounts.
The old policy, business manager Robert Barber said, was to speed up payment of bills.
“It was not intended to pay bills without receipts,” he said.
Barber said the unit credit cards would also be audited annually.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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