By Jim Newell
A North Oakland Transportation Authority (NOTA) employee who allegedly embezzled thousands of dollars using a NOTA gas card is under investigation and could face charges after results of the investigation are turned over to the county prosecutor’s office.
Lake Orion Police Chief Jerry Narsh said the LOPD was in the process of concluding its investigation on Friday.
“We have performed a thorough investigation and will submit our findings to the prosecutor’s office for review,” he said.
On Monday, Narsh confirmed that the LOPD had sent the findings of its investigation to the prosecutor’s office.
“NOTA has been extremely cooperative. The minute they found out there was an anomaly they contacted us to begin an investigation,” Narsh said.
The female employee allegedly charged more than $5,000 in gas for personal use over an extended period of time. Narsh said he did not want to release any further details of the case until the suspect had been arraigned, which could take up to two weeks, or longer.
NOTA Director Lynn Gustafson did not want to comment, but did issue a statement to The Lake Orion Review:
“While changing out old fuel cards we discovered that one was unaccountable. We began researching the fuel card usage in detail online which shows more activity than the paper billing. In reviewing the records we discovered some random uses that fell outside the norm. We immediately shut down the card and started an internal investigation. During the internal investigation, we determined who we believed was responsible for the fraudulent activity. The employee was immediately suspended pending further investigation and the matter was turned over to the Lake Orion Village police department the same day (Feb 23, 2017).
“We have since instituted new policies and procedures to secure and monitor future gas card use.
“We are cooperating fully with the Lake Orion Village police department as they continue their investigation.”
The Lake Orion Review will follow this story as it develops.
Narsh said the general procedure is that the prosecutor’s office will review the results of the investigation. A warrant then would be issued for the suspect’s arrest if the prosecutor’s offices deems there is sufficient evidence.
The LOPD would arrest the suspect and then there would be an arraignment before a judge or magistrate in district court.
NOTA is a transportation service for the senior, disabled and low-income residents of Orion, Oxford and Addison Townships and the Villages of Lake Orion, Oxford and Leonard.
Since 2001, NOTA has helped people who need assistance getting to medical appointments, grocery shopping, work, church, senior centers, community events or other necessary rides in the area
NOTA has 20 vehicles, 16 of which are wheelchair accessible. In 2016, NOTA drove 436,000 miles and provided 33,879 rides to seniors, disabled and low-income residents.
On the web: www.notaride.org.
By Jim Newell