UPDATE: Dusty VanRenan, former manager of the Fremont County landfill in Iowa, has been sentenced to two years probation after he was arrested for stealing money from the county last year.
VanRenan pleaded guilty to second-degree theft in Fremont County Court this week and a charge of ongoing criminal conduct was dismissed, as reported by the Omaha World-Herald. A $750 civil penalty was dropped, though VanRenan may still be on the hook for undetermined legal costs and restitution. The convictions will be struck from his record if he completes the terms of his probation.
The 2016 state auditor investigation which discovered the theft and misappropriation of funds recommended putting tighter controls in place for landfill operations and segregating some duties for the purpose of oversight.
- Dusty VanRenan, former manager of the Fremont County Landfill in Iowa, was arrested on Wednesday after a state auditor released results of a special investigation into nearly $40,000 in "improper and unsupported disbursements, undeposited collections, and forgone revenues."
- More than $5,500 of this missing money was paid to VanRenan's personal account for pallets he brought to a recycling facility and approximately $2,000 was for personal fuel purchases made on a government credit card. The auditor also has remaining questions about additional charges which couldn't be verified.
- The largest sum was a $20,000 forgivable loan from the state's Department of Natural Resources Solid Waste Alternatives Program which must be paid back because VanRenan failed to meet the program's requirements. Of the remaining funds, some were improperly disbursed or potentially paid to VanRenan for other undeposited collections.
Though VanRenan only held his position from March 2014 to Sept. 2015, that was still plenty of time for him to affect the county's operations. In addition to allegedly using a government truck to haul nine loads of pallets for personal profit on multiple occasions, he also worked to set up a recycling program at the landfill which suffered from a seeming lack of profitability.
"The proceeds were going to his bank account so it didn’t appear to be worthwhile for the commission to maintain the recycling portion of the landfill," said State Auditor Mary Mosiman. "But had he deposited the money into the commission’s bank account versus his own bank account, things could have been different."
Questionable finances and suspicious actions led a member of the county's landfill board to request that the sheriff investigate further. Due to a variety of reasons, including a personal recycling business he established in Nebraska while still employed in Iowa, VanRenan resigned before he could be terminated. He now faces felony charges of ongoing criminal conduct and second-degree theft.
These types of fraud cases happen across all industries, but are even more troubling when they affect the viability of recycling programs or other necessary services.