Reader Opinion: What to do about Cofell?
That was the question Flensburg City Council faced, at their meeting on April 15, 2019.
Margurite Cofell was kept on as clerk, despite pleading guilty to fraud by embezzling in excess of $2.5 million from St. Francis Credit Union, leading to its collapse in 2014. Unbelievable, considering they know she's a crook.
The State Auditor's 2016/2017 report includes countless violations of Minnesota Statutes.
Clerk failed to complete bank reconciliations on city's sole checking account, never provided council with income/expense reports as required for public accountability, paid employee PERA contributions late, and city lacked control over preparation of financial statements.
Personal loans from Margurite, mayor-owned Badger Creek Farms, and three commercial loans from First State Bank of Swanville, were not authorized indebtedness.
Unpaid bills, bookkeeping errors/omissions, and significant federal liens against the city for taxes due 2013/2014/2015, cost Flensburg, thousands in interest and penalties, that served no benefit to the taxpayers.
City's clerk conducted business from her home on her personal computer, stored city records there, and used her personal cell phone for city business.
Errors and unrecorded transactions totaled approximately $14,000 in 2016 and approximately $29,000 in 2017.
A single payment was made to the State of Minnesota via electronic funds transfer with no "required" wire transfer authorization form. The report states "It cannot be readily determined from ACH payment information on the bank statements if more electronic funds transfers were made. The city did not follow its wire transfer payments policy.
While at the credit union, Margurite manipulated the general ledger, issued checks that were not paid for, withdrew money from the CU's vault account and made numerous fake electronic wire transfers.
City officers are stewards of public funds. Not in Flensburg.