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Wayne Township schools making changes after $133K misappropriation uncovered

Belinda Rivers worked as extracurricular treasurer
Ben Davis High School.PNG
Posted at 10:34 AM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 10:34:52-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township is making changes after an internal and external investigation revealed fraudulent transactions using extra-curricular account funds meant to help school sports teams.

An audit released Monday by the Indiana State Board of Accounts revealed the former extracurricular accounts treasurer at Ben Davis High School, Belinda Rivers, was responsible for $133,758.67 in misappropriation of funds.

Rivers died on July 7, 2021, records show.

She worked at the high school in extracurricular accounts starting in 2012, and in 2018 was named the Extracurricular Accounts treasurer.

Rivers was responsible for collecting, counting, and receipting all collections and depositing the money into the bank account including sales from tickets and concessions.

In August 2020, the MSD of Wayne Township Business Office discovered a potential fraudulent voucher sent for payment processing by Rivers.

“Upon receipt of that voucher, additional research was conducted which did result in confirmation that the voucher was fraudulent,” read a statement from the district. “An internal investigation was then conducted, including a count of onsite assets, other vouchers submitted for payment, and any other possible financial activities that appeared suspect or fraudulent.”

The school district notified the State Board of Accounts and Indiana State Police.

When district officials questioned Rivers about undocumented payments, Rivers did not have an explanation, records show.

The district terminated Rivers on Aug. 13, 2020.

Records show cash collections from ticket sales and concessions were not deposited including football, soccer, basketball, swimming, a field trip, choir, swimming and diving, and the spirit shop.

State auditors found checks written from the extracurricular accounts to Belinda Rivers’ personal bank account.

One check was made payable to Rivers’ daughter, Imani Ollie, for a field trip refund for $5,043.

Auditors found the check was deposited into Ollie’s personal bank account, and there was no record of Ollie paying for a field trip.

In its report released Monday, the SBOA said they racked up $95,529.60 in special investigation costs.

The audit says Rivers was responsible for a total of $234,331.17 in misappropriated funds, penalties and interest, and special investigation costs, and that her daughter Ollie should repay taxpayers $5,043.

The audit was sent to the Indiana Attorney General’s office who could file legal action against Rivers’ estate to recoup the money on behalf of taxpayers.

Auditors also criticized the lack of controls at Ben Davis High School that allowed this to happen, including that athletic and club sponsors did not obtain a receipt from Rivers.

“Internal controls over the cash change funds were inadequate,” read the report. “Corrections were made to the ledgers without any approvals or oversights.”

The district is making changes to prevent future fraud.

“Internal controls were studied and modified to increase oversight and prevent similar account manipulations,” read a statement from the district. “Procedures were also reviewed with all treasurers, stakeholders, and principals to verify understanding and compliance. Additional training was conducted to ensure all parties are knowledgeable about the expectations and compliance with the updated internal controls and practices, along with the continued practice of ongoing monthly treasurer training and education on best practices.”

Just prior to the discovery of the fraud, the MSD of Wayne Township started and continues to conduct internal quarterly audits of all district extra-curricular accounts, read the statement.

“The additional internal audit allows for continued oversight of control compliance and verification of proper accounting procedures,” read the statement. “The MSD of Wayne Township is working through the legal process and with our insurance provider to seek restitution for the financial losses that resulted from these fraudulent acts. No student or student organization will be negatively impacted.”

WRTV is working to reach Ollie for comment.

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