(COLIN HAFFNER/Chewelah Independent)
RESPONSE: Commissioners and prosecutor discuss $30k reimbursement concerning former county auditor…
“The motivation of our local elected county prosecutor is a mystery to this board and very troubling. It becomes especially so in light of his failed attempt to aid the previous County Auditor, Tim Gray, transfer check totaling almost $30,000 from the IRS to Stevens County into a personal account,” the Stevens County Commissioners penned in a recent opinion article published in the April 4 Chewelah Independent.
The referenced matter stemmed from a 2017 notice sent to Gray by the Internal Revenue Service stating the county had incurred penalties totaling more than $27,000 for the late deposit of payroll taxes between Sept. 2016 and Jan. 2017.
Gray chose to pay that amount out of his personal funds in Dec. 2018, claiming in a letter to Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen dated Dec. 20, 2018 that he felt personally responsible due to a miscommunication with a new payroll clerk. However, after consulting with an IRS agent in Spokane earlier in 2018, Gray was able to appeal the fines and the county received refunds totaling $24,185.40. He then appealed to Rasmussen on counsel to how he may pursue recovering the returned amount from the IRS to his personal funds.
Following initial denial by the county commissioners Dec. 28, 2018, Gray submitted a claim for reimbursement, officially filed as a Claim for Damages, on Jan. 25, 2019 and lists Jim Moffitt, Manager of the Stevens County Risk Department, and Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen as “persons involved/witnesses,” and Gray cited that the county “has been unjustly enriched by $24,185.40 of returned (waived) IRS penalties that I paid with my personal funds,” as the reason for his claim.
Gray stated in the claim that the reimbursement checks had been turned over to Moffitt in his role as the county risk manager when they came in, and Moffitt originally asked a voucher for the amount be made payable to Gray in a memo dated Dec. 24, 2018.
Rasmussen, the prosecutor referenced in the commissioners’ opinion piece, denied any sort of collusion with Gray on the matter, stating, “I did not collude with Mr. Gray or try to do anything against the county. I had a duty to advise Mr. Gray about the situation he got himself in and I did do that while he was Auditor. I never gave him advice after he was no longer auditor.”
Documents show that Rasmussen has since opted to remove himself from further counsel in the matter, stating “a personal conflict of interest that necessitates my withdrawal from representing Stevens County in this matter.” In lieu of his counsel, Rasmussen appointed Terry Williams of Terry Williams Law Office in Colville as Special Deputy effective March 21, 2019 in order to represent Stevens County “as conflict counsel in civil defense only of the claim alleged by Tim Gray regarding payments made from his personal account.”