OAKLAND, Neb. (KCAU) — A Nebraska Police Chief has been accused of using City funds to make personal purchases totaling more than $15,000, as well as double-billing the cities for wages.
According to the report from the Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts (APA), the auditor had received concerns about the purchase of gift cards by the City of Oakland’s Police Chief, Terry Poland, and duplicate payroll costs with the City of Lyons.
The report states that Poland began purchasing gift cards from Scheels during the fiscal year of 2020. The purchase was reported as being used for ammunition for the Oakland Police Department (OPD), but there was little to no documentation to support that claim.
The first purchase of gift cards had been made on February 23, 2020, in the amount of $2,850 and there were no receipts provided by Poland. The purchase was made in the name of the OPD, and the report specified that while the Oakland auditor didn’t find the gift cards concerning APA indicated that “using gift cards to purchase ammunition for municipal purposes is questionable by itself.” The report stated that along with the suspicion around failing to provide receipts, the APA also questioned the timing of the purchases since the COVID-19 Pandemic had allegedly caused a national ammunition shortage in February.
Oakland’s auditor had allegedly looked into the matter and according to a note from March 2021, found that there was no indication of fraud.
The report stated that on November 15, 2021, APA was made aware of possible misuse of funds as well as double billing of hours, so the APA asked Oakland’s auditor for their copies of any documents regarding the issues. The APA found that Chief Poland had allegedly told officials that Scheels would not permit him to charge ammunition to the city’s account, which is why they needed to purchase the gift cards.
A week after being made aware of the possible misuse of funds, the APA contacted Scheels to obtain information about the purchases. The Store Office Leader at the Omaha Scheels location allegedly confirmed to the APA that there is no policy that prohibits the purchase of ammunition from being charged to a city’s charge account.
Further investigation by the APA found that additional purchases of gift cards took place between February 2020 through January 2021, totaling $14,070 worth of gift cards – which does not include $561 in discounts that would bring the total to $14,631. Upon reviewing the receipts obtained from Scheels, the APA alleged that no ammunition had been purchased with the gift cards.
The report alleges that Poland apparently used the gift cards to purchase personal items including a Yeti cooler, jewelry, clothing, food, fishing equipment, and “other goods that serve no apparent public or municipal purposes.”
The report also described additional purchases that Poland allegedly made as “extravagant,” alleging that he purchased a $950 Basketball backboard that was apparently installed at his personal residence. It was also stated that he purchased a $400 Wakesurf Board.
“The APA is uncertain how the acquisition of such a recreational item could serve a valid municipal purpose in general, much less contribute to the marksmanship or any other efficiency of the Oakland Police Department in particular. It was noted, however, that the board could be used with Chief Poland’s 2017 Tiger Performance Boat (according to the Nebraska DMV system), which also appears in the above picture.”Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts Statement
The report stated that Poland allegedly used the gift cards at various surrounding Scheels locations, and he allegedly also had items shipped to his residence.
The APA found documents that showed Poland’s total alleged purchases in which he apparently used city funds amounted to $15,183.37. Some purchases reportedly cost more than certain gift card amounts, so the report states that he allegedly covered the remaining costs of his own accord.
Additionally, the report alleged that the APA reviewed timesheets of Poland and other employees and found that the City of Oakland and the City of Lyons had been double-billed for hourly wages. For example, the report showed timecards that were obtained by the APA, that depicted Chief Poland had recorded working in Oakland on June 14, 2021, for 24 hours starting at 6 a.m., as well as working in Lyons on June 14, 2021, from 4 p.m. to 6 a.m. for a total of 14 hours logged for two cities at the same time.
The report stated that APA alleged Poland claimed a total of 181.5 overlapping hours resulting in $3,523.50 paid. There was no specified amount for the other officers who also allegedly recorded overlapping hours.
The report showed that APA recommended the cities implement stronger practices to avoid similar incidents in the future, and official responses from the cities indicated that they will be looking at ways to accurately track hours as well as changing certain policies.