Mayor Pro Tem turned convict now suspected of stealing from taxpayers, too

Mayor Pro Tem turned convict now suspected of stealing from taxpayers, too

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Wash. -- The State Auditor's Officer is looking into another misappropriation of taxpayer money in Franklin County.  The office released this report on questionable decisions for Mountain View Cemetery, also known as Connell Cemetery.  The former Mayor Pro Tem of Connell is suspected of the potential fraud and a report was turned over to the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office for the possible filing of charges.  Monica Pruett is already serving jail time for ripping off a private business for years.  She was given a two year term and ordered to pay back the $160,000 she stole.  Now the prosecutor will determine if she also stole from taxpayers as well.

New information puts the former Connell councilwoman in the middle of yet another scandal.

Besides managing the books for the farm, she managed the Connell Chamber of Commerce and was an EMT and a trained paramedic.

Pruett also served as business manager for the Connell Cemetery.

A new report by the state auditor's office says it was under Pruett's watch that more than $21,000 of taxpayer money meant for the cemetery was misappropriated.

$14,000 in burial plot sales were never turned.

Missing receipts for grave digging totaled more than $5,000.

And the report says more than $2,000 was shoveled into Pruett's private company -- no one knows what for.

All told, more than $50,000 was drained from taxpayers over roughly a decade.

It's similar to the ongoing theft at D&S Farms. Pruett ripped off tens of thousands over a 12-year period, nearly bankrupting the business. The state began this fraud investigation when it was tipped off by board members for the cemetery.

KEPR tried reaching them, but all the numbers we tried were disconnected.

We wanted to know if Pruett could be involved in other taxpayer entities, besides the Franklin County Cemetery District #2.

So we contacted Franklin County Commissioners.

Rick Miller said, while tax revenue passes through the county, the commissioners have no way of seeing how money is used since the cemetery district has its own leadership.

Following the auditor's investigation, the report says cemetery leaders now ordered a monthly reconciliation of financial records.

But the damage is done.

And the money may be gone.

Franklin County already has the state's largest case of fraud ever found from a government entity.   Dennis Huston was convicted of stealing millions from taxpayers while working for Franklin County Public Works.