State auditor urges criminal investigation against Five Rivers RC&D head
LINCOLN - Nebraska State Auditor Mike Foley is asking for a criminal investigation in financial transfers from the former executive director of Five Rivers Resource Conservation & Development.
A report filed by the auditor’s office Monday alleges 200 transactions totaling $219,963 over seven years to Arley’s food truck , a mobile food vendor based at Steinauer and owned by Bobbie Meints’ husband, Arlan.
The auditor says the payments are personal in nature as they appear to have been neither for services provided to the RC&D or approved by the board.
Foley called the payments “outrageous” and forwarded his report to the Nebraska Attorney General and the Johnson County Attorney's Office.
He also questioned whether members of the Five Rivers board of directors had exercised proper oversight of spending by their executive director.
The report says the RC&D audit was triggered by activity after the Secretary of State issued a certificate in June of 2021 to dissolve the non-profit.
Despite the dissolution, Five Rivers received signed contracts from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for household hazardous waste collections and native grassland protection against invasive species in April of 2022. On June 8, Five Rivers submitted a reimbursement request to the environmental trust for the grant funds.
The environmental trust conducted an audit on June 30.
On July 25, 2022 Five Rivers’ non-profit status was reinstated.
On Nov. 16, 2022, the board accepted Meints’ resignation.
On July 5, 2023 the secretary of state administratively dissolved Five Rivers once more.
The report says Five Rivers was unable to provide adequate documentation regarding Arley’s catering services and says RC&D representatives did not recall any catering services from Arley’s.
The report says Five Rivers was unable to provide adequate documentation to support some payroll checks to Meints and unable to provide documentation to support $28,000 in reimbursement checks to Meints.
The report criticizes the Five Rivers board for inattentiveness.
Foley report: “We recommend the political subdivisions responsible for creating Five Rivers ensure that no other entity created or governed by any of them is permitted to place funds at risk through poor banking practices, late payments on credit card billings, or failure to comply with federal tax laws.”
The RC&D was formed in 1993 to benefit Otoe, Nemaha, Richardson, Johnson, Pawnee, Gage, Jefferson and Saline counties. It was funded primarily by state environmental and agricultural grants.
Board members are:
- Duane Sugden, Nemaha NRD
- Bob Lorenz, Lower Big Blue NRD
- James Parsons, Otoe County
- Vacant - Nemaha County
- Rick Karas, Richardson County
- Jim Erickson, Johnson County
- Ron Seitz, Pawnee County
- Eddie Dorn, Gage County
- Jim Frager, Jefferson County
- Phil Hardenburger, Saline County
- Jennifer Sommers, Cass County
- Ashley Rippe, at large
- Paul Rohrbaugh, at large
- Shirley Vodicka, at large