DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. - A CALL7 investigation has prompted the Douglas County Sheriff's Office to begin its own criminal investigation into cash missing at the Douglas County School District.
CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia discovered the DCSD Transportation Department managers received thousands of dollars in cash from the disposal of old buses, but found no evidence in school district records that much of the cash was deposited in district accounts.
Informed sources tell Ferrugia at least $11,000 is missing.
The three-month CALL7 investigation found more than a dozen vehicles crushed for salvage, and in most cases, the District Transportation Department obtained cash from J & B Salvage in Brighton.
District officials told Ferrugia they had no idea some of the money was unaccounted-for until he started asking questions.
The CALL7 Investigators repeatedly requested an interview with Lance Yoxsimer, acting director of DCSD's Transportation Department. District officials refused.
So, the CALL7 Investigators approached Yoxsimer before a meeting.
Ferrugia asked Yoxsimer to explain why CALL7 could find no record of some of the cash received from the crushed buses being deposited in district accounts.
"John, I honest to goodness, I had no idea about this," Yoxsimer said.
But, in fact, Yoxsimer knows a lot about it, because DCSD has been scrambling, asking him for records, after the CALL7 Investigators found Yoxsimer’s notes, on multiple pages of invoices, totaling thousands of dollars in cash. Several of the invoice bear the note, "Money turned into Paul…"
"Paul" is Paul Balon, Yoxsimer’s former boss and the district's Transportation Director until December 2013, when he was forced to retire after a CALL7 investigation documented misuse of DCSD tax-exempt Sam’s Club cards. Balon used district funds to buy cards for favored employees, and some who are unrelated to the District -- including Balon's wife.
When Ferrugia asked Yoxsimer whether he had receipts for the money turned into Balon, he responded, "I can't go there, John…"
Sources familiar with the investigation say Yoxsimer has produced no receipts from Balon to prove how much he passed along from J & B Salvage nor has the district been able to account for all of the cash. There is also nothing to indicate into which account the cash might have been deposited.
"Why would you get cash when checks were available from J & B?" asked Ferrugia.
"Again, I can't, I can't answer that," Yoxsimer responded.
But the CALL7 Investigators have uncovered records that make it clear that cash was a priority for Balon, Yoxsimer -- or both. Drivers were told to request cash for salvage, even though the district could have obtained checks.
The CALL7 investigation found clear evidence of missing funds in the district's own records. For example: a Douglas County School District transportation work order from October 10, 2011, that reads, "Tow to salvage yard and bring $5,000.00 cash back to the shop for the two buses … taken to salvage."
Buried in other records turned over by the district, the CALL7 Investigators found an email also dated October 10, 2011, from an accounting clerk to then-transportation director Paul Balon. It reads in part, "This email is being written as confirmation of the deposit made today into the Coke fund," and lists a check for $2,510.50, and $4,400 cash -- $600 less than the $5,000 listed on the work order -- both from J & B Salvage.
Another district account document confirms the missing money, showing a total deposit of $6,910.50, the sum of the check and cash listed in the email, again $600 short.
Sources say district officials have not been able to track the money.
When Ferrugia asked Yoxsimer whether he was aware of any missing money, Yoxsimer replied, "I'm not aware of anything to that nature…"
The CALL7 Investigators' analysis of district records also showed receipts for the same two buses salvaged on October 10, 2011, are missing, as are the records of yet another bus.
In all, 10 buses were taken to salvage, along with several smaller vehicles. Records show all but one were cash transactions.
When the CALL7 Investigators began requesting records in December 2013, and the scope of the problem became apparent, Bill Moffit, DCSD's Chief Operations Officer, Balon's and Yoxsimer's boss, and the person responsible for the transportation department, announced his retirement. He previously admitted to being unaware of Balon's misuse of Sam's Club cards, and sources say he was also unaware of any missing cash.