SHOREHAM — A forensic audit was ordered by Village of Shoreham trustees near the end of an almost three-hour, often heated meeting Wednesday, which included charges of nepotism and possible financial mismanagement.
Village President Bruno Trapikas joined the five trustees in approving the forensic audit, even though he said he was “concerned about the needless cost.”
The village receives a financial audit every two years, with the last one conduced in 2018, when auditors noted that because there is “not a complete segregation of duties, a fraud or misstatement could occur without being detected.”
President Pro Tem Reneta Mais said trustees weren’t given that information at the time and she only found out recently about this finding.
The auditors in the report suggested that village trustees get more involved in providing “oversight and independent review functions, and continue to look at ways to enhance controls with the existing staff.”
But Mais said the opposite happened. She said that Trapikas took on the additional role of treasurer for over a year until a new treasurer was recently hired.
When contacted by phone after the meeting, Trapikas said that all of the trustees received copies of the audit for their review in 2018.
The minutes from September 2018, when the audit was presented by senior manager Alex Schaffer of Kruggel Lawton, state that the village’s funds are nine times what they would need to be if they wanted to pursue a loan, and that the village was found to be financially accountable. No mention of the need for more oversight was in the minutes.
In addition, Mais said that Trapikas and his wife, village Clerk Debra Trapikas, are the only two people authorized to sign village checks. The clerk is a non-voting elected position.
Bruno Trapikas said he and his wife being the president and clerk isn’t out of the norm for the small village. He said that the husband and wife team of Larry and Angie Larsen were the president and clerk for 18 years before he and his wife took on those positions in 2015. And by village charter, he said the president and clerk sign the checks.
“All the funds are there,” he said. “Has there been some lack of segregation? There has. But the fact of the matter is there just aren’t enough people willing to step forward and help out.”
Another husband-wife team also serves on the village council – Bob and Stephanie Clarke.
Mais further said that the village’s street administrator, Terry Hager, is their son-in-law and lives in their house.
Trapikas said that Mais had no problem with Hager being hired to that position. In fact, he said she’s the one who made the motion to hire him.
Meanwhile, Mais said that every month, between $70 and $400 is reimbursed to the Trapikas household without there being adequate receipts.
“The reimbursement receipts have not been made available to us. And this has been asked for years ago when it began,” Mais said during the meeting. “Then there’s unauthorized work ordered and expenditures that are being done. And we’ve had these repeated requests for that reason.”
For example, Mais said she would like to see the statements justifying the village spending more than $5,000 over the past few months at Staples “for an office that is open 5 hours a week, and we have 800 residents.”
Trapikas said he has emailed all of the requested information to the trustees every time they have asked for something.
As far as reimbursement, Trapikas said that is a normal way for things to be done in a municipality. He said that during his 30 years as a planner with Chicago, which he retired from 16 years ago, he was often reimbursed for expenses. And he said that no money has ever been paid out without trustees first approving it.
Trapikas said he is uncertain what the next step is, regarding the forensic audit. The approved motion called for the forensic audit to be done by a firm other than the one that did the village’s financial audit.