By Brandi Makuski
County officials and Stevens Point police have begun an investigation into the the Portage Co. Treasurer’s Office.
Following the release of a routine audit of the office by an independent third-party accounting firm, an internal investigation by the county was undertaken, according to Corporation Council Mike McKenna.
Soon after, he said, the case was referred to the Stevens Point Police Dept., which is currently investigating to determine what, if any, crime has taken place.
County Treasurer Stephanie Stokes said she had no comment on the audit or investigation. Stokes’ longtime deputy treasurer, Amy Townsend, resigned from the office on Sept. 3.
It was not immediately known if Townsends’ resignation was related to the investigation, though days later Townsend did apply for a part-time position of treasurer in the Village of Whiting.
When asked if either Townsend or Stokes were a focus of the investigation, or whether any other county employees were suspected of wrongdoing, McKenna said, “It’s fair to say there’s an investigation into the entire office and its operations.”
The county’s Finance Committee discussed crime and theft prevention within the treasurer’s office during a closed session meeting on Sept. 28, but county officials have declined comment on that meeting.
County Executive Patty Dreier said she “could not comment on that at this time”.
The audit, conducted by Baker Tilly, noted several deficiencies in the Treasurer’s Office, to include lack of control over access to the county’s checking account and wire transfers, no policy related to investment management, lack of “overall accounting and finance knowledge” and a lack of policy relating to reconciliation and reporting requirements.
Stokes, who has been county treasurer since 2003, said she has since replaced Townsend with a new appointed deputy treasurer, Lisa Burant, who was promoted to the position from within the office.
Assistant Police Chief Tony Babl said he wasn’t able to comment on an ongoing investigation, but did say the “alleged crime occurred in Stevens Point, which makes it our jurisdiction.”
*This is a developing story. Check back for updates.