ALAMOSA — Former City of Alamosa Finance Director Amanda McDonald, 41, was arrested on Monday on theft, embezzlement and other charges related to alleged misappropriations and misconduct during her tenure with the city.
Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks had announced on October 20, 2016 that McDonald was terminated from employment with the city. McDonald had worked for the city since July 2007 and had served as finance director since December 2008.
Brooks said McDonald had been on “restricted access” to city finances for several months following a 2015 audit by local accounting firm Wall, Smith and Bateman (WSB) that was presented in July that year.
After becoming aware of alleged theft allegations, an investigation was initiated by the Alamosa Police Department. Upon completion of a lengthy investigation the case was presented to the 12th Judicial District Attorney’s office for review and filing of charges.
Charges of theft, a Class 3 felony, embezzlement of public property, a Class 5 felony, unauthorized use of a financial transaction device, a Class 5 felony, and first degree official misconduct, a Class 2 misdemeanor have been filed against McDonald. A warrant for McDonald’s arrest was also issued in relation to the charges.
The listed charges resulted from information leading investigators to believe that McDonald misappropriated up to $65,000 in public funds. The investigation further led investigators to believe that McDonald also provided health insurance through the city to an unauthorized family member, which resulted in the city being charged approximately $400,000 in unauthorized premiums and insurance benefits being paid out.
On Monday, July 17, officers from the Alamosa Police Department took McDonald into custody at her residence in Del Norte. She is being held at the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office on a $25,000 bond.
“We understand this took a very long time to get to this point,” Brooks said on Monday. “We wanted to make sure we were doing our due diligence and … that we were able to bring a strong case to the district attorney’s office.”
Brooks added that the police department and all staff involved in the investigation did a professional job of handling this situation.
She said the next step will be the legal proceedings, and city officials and staff are hopeful for the right outcome to be reached.
“We will be seeking restitution for those funds that we feel are appropriate,” she added.
Brooks said that since this situation arose, the city has been aggressive in changing procedures to put checks and balances in place “and doing everything we can to protect the public’s funds.”
For example independent reviews are regularly conducted of the city’s financial reports.
According to city records, McDonald was originally hired on July 16, 2007 as an “Account Clerk I,” was promoted to “Account Clerk II” on June 24, 2008, was promoted to interim finance director on Sept. 15, 2008 and was promoted to finance director on Dec. 22, 2008. She was making $76,097 annually at the time of her dismissal.
The city hired Judy Kelloff, CPA, to fill McDonald’s vacancy. Kelloff, who has 25 years accounting experience, served as interim finance director before being selected to fill the position permanently last year.