State Auditor: Small-town firefighter’s association had thousands of dollars of improper spending

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BAGLEY — The state auditor has released a special investigation report of the Bagley Fire Fighter’s Association, finding thousands of dollars of improper disbursements.

The special investigation identified $13,983.28 of improper disbursements and $6,901.10 of unsupported disbursements from the Association’s bank accounts. The $13,983.28 of improper disbursements identified includes $2,076.91 of purchases from Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and Amazon, $2,701.27 of convenience store purchases, $6,589.85 in purchases from other vendors, $2,552.25 of cash withdrawals, and $63 of bank fees.

The $6,901.10 of unsupported disbursements identified includes $1,240.34 paid to Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Amazon, $4,055.76 paid to other vendors, and $1,605.00 of cash withdrawals. Additionally, Auditor Rob Sand reported $2,633.90 of undeposited collections were identified which include fundraising collections the Association’s former Treasurer reported he received but which were not deposited.

Matt Sutherland served as President and Treasurer of the association during the timeframe encompassed by the special investigation. According to the auditor’s report, motorcycle gear and clothing, men’s clothing, a wedding band, saddles, and a Fire TV stick for streaming media were purchased on Amazon with money from the Association. The items shipped were sent to Sutherland at a personal residence located in Bagley.

Other purchases at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club by Sutherland were identified to not be in the best interest of the Association. Those included cigarettes, a vaccuum, and dog food, according to the auditor’s report.

The Association’s primary revenue sources are fundraising events, including an annual street dance held in the summer, a spring and fall pancake breakfast, and occasionally a fall soup supper.

Copies of the report have been filed with the Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office, the Division of Criminal Investigation, the Guthrie County Attorney’s Office, and the Attorney General’s Office.

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