Washougal financial investigation forwarded to county prosecutor

Clark County Sheriff’s Office completes report

The long-awaited results of an investigation into Washougal financial issues have been sent to the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office.

Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Kevin Allais, with the Major Crimes Unit, said the report prepared by Detective Tom Mitchum, has been completed and forwarded to prosecutors.

Lori Volkman, a deputy prosecuting attorney with the civil division, said Monday the report is currently exempt from public disclosure.

“The prosecutor’s office is reviewing the report for potential crimes,” she said. “Because it is still under active investigation, it’s not subject to active release at this time.”

A State Auditor’s Office report released in October 2009 mentioned Washougal was not able to account for approximately $100,000 in revenue generated from festivals, including Washougalfest in 2008 and Riverfest in 2009.

The audit findings also mentioned the city did not have any recorded revenue from the Washougal Main Street Market.

The city paid the Downtown Revitalization and Implementation Committee $75,000 in 2008 and $50,000 in 2009 for its event management services.

After the auditor’s office was unable to determine what happened to some of the revenue from the festivals, Mayor Sean Guard asked the Sheriff’s Office to proceed with a criminal investigation and determine if any laws were broken or if city funds were misappropriated.

The auditor’s report mentioned there were interviews with Guard, current and former city staff members, council members, former Mayor Stacee Sellers and DRIC employees and vendors, to determine how certain city events were managed.

The auditor’s office requested documents from the city, DRIC and Columbia River Productions LLC –– a primary vendor that helped stage Washougalfest –– to determine what happened to proceeds that should have been deposited in the city’s account.

“Records we received from the city and the non-profit [DRIC] were insufficiently detailed to allow us to make this determination,” Jennifer Forsberg, a fraud investigative manager for the auditor’s office, wrote in March 2010. “The vendor declined to provide records related to these events. The vendor also declined numerous requests for an interview.

“For the three events in question, we also found no written agreement among any of the parties for this event that spelled out responsibilities and payments,” she added. “Therefore, we are unable to determine whether public resources were misused, lost or misappropriated.”

Forsberg was hired as the Washougal finance director in July 2010.

Guard said in March 2010 Sellers had previously listed Columbia River Productions as an employer on her annual state financial declaration filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission.

“The information that the former Washougal mayor was employed by the major company involved with the special events certainly appears to violate a number of conflict of interest policies and raises more concerns about how things transpired,” he said.

Sellers has since moved to the Washington D.C. area, where she is a real estate salesperson and massage therapist.