DES MOINES, Iowa — A former executive with the Metro Waste Authority is accused of stealing nearly two million dollars from the organization using a series of sham companies.
State Auditor Rob Sand announced the results of the investigation into MWA finances on Thursday. Sand’s office found that former MWA Director of Operations Jeff Dworek was responsible for “improper disbursements” of $1.83 million dollars.
“What is essentially a scheme of using a shell company to make improper payments of taxpayers dollars from MWA into the hands of Jeff Dworek,” Sand said.
According to the Auditor’s report, Dworek approved payments of $1.17 million dollars to a company called Britad. That company was owned by Dworek and his wife. The MWA cannot find any record of any services actually provided by the company.
“In essence he was getting a salary to do the work and submitting invoices as a company owned entirely by himself describing the same work he was already getting paid for,” Sand said. “So generally speaking lack of segregation of duties, simpler way to put that is people were presumably trusting him but certainly not verifying him.”
The Auditor questioned another $656,000 payed to Lemar Programming Company, LLC. That company was owned by Tracy Lemar, a friend of Dworek. According to the Auditor’s report, everytime a payment was made from MWA to LPC, LPC would then in turn deposit half that amount into a Britad account.
Dworek resigned from his position in March 2017 as he was being pressed for details about the payments.
Criminal charges haven’t been announced but the FBI is also investigating Dworek.
Sand said this all unraveled when MWA’s current executive director, Michael McCoy, started his job in 2016 and started asking questions.
“I was new to the organization and I really needed to learn what was happening here from ground up. I wasn’t really looking for anything at the time,” McCoy said in a press conference following Sand’s.
McCoy said he and others at MWA were shocked to hear about the allegations against Dworek, a longtime employee.
“I’m disappointed and I’m shocked and I’m angry,” McCoy said. “That breaks a lot of trust for me for the rest of the staff and a lot of them worked with him and didn’t know this was happening.
He said the organization is working to ensure this never happens again. Already, MWA has implemented a new verification process for vendors to make sure each one is properly vetted.
“It was one individual. We have some great employees here that work very hard every day not to let something like this determine who they are or what we are as an agency,” McCoy said.