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Ex-Evergreen schools staffer investigated in fraudulent payments

A former communications staffer at Evergreen Public Schools is being investigated in connection with nearly $60,000 in fraudulent payments the district paid to a company registered under his name.

The state Auditor’s Office released a report Thursday detailing an alleged scheme in which Kris Fay, a former communications manager at the school district, approved payments for web hosting services the district did not receive. Fay provided a false name on the contract between the district and his company, NWGA Web Hosting, and collected $58,547 in payments between April 2017 and July 2018.

Fay’s calendar also showed 29 1/2 hours of fake meetings between himself and the company, for a total of $1,327 of inappropriately paid staff time, according to the report. Fay’s salary for the 2017-2018 school year, the last year he was fully employed with the district, was $91,864, according to Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction salary records.

The district’s accounting department discovered what was happening in October 2018 after researching a purchase order for web hosting services from the communications office with Fay’s company. A staff member pulled a copy of the business license and found Fay listed as the owner.

The district interviewed Fay on Oct. 22 and Oct. 24, according to the report. Fay acknowledged that he’d violated district policy and resigned. The district reported the loss of public funds to the Auditor’s Office on Oct. 25 in compliance with state law.

District spokeswoman Gail Spolar said the district might contract with businesses that employees have an interest in so long as they disclose that connection.

“This was not the case in this instance,” Spolar said by email. “As stated in the report, a false name was provided indicating the owner was someone else.”

Fay also purports to be the owner of Northwest Golf Adventures. The company’s website claims to offer trips and packages to courses and resorts in the region, but a contact page on the website contains filler text, and a phone number listed on the page has 11 numbers in it rather than the 10 standard to United States phone numbers.

There’s no Northwest Golf Adventures registered in Washington or Oregon, but an Oregon Golf Adventures registered to Fay lists the same address as Northwest Golf Adventures’ Facebook page, according to the Oregon Secretary of State’s website.

Fay was featured in the Vancouver Business Journal’s Accomplished and Under 40 Class of 2015.

“Kris is passionate about bringing his considerable skills for communication and organization (easily seen in his role as communications manager for Evergreen Public Schools) to bear in the community to make a difference,” the Vancouver Business Journal reported in a profile of Fay. “He has been pivotal in helping the … school district … manage its reputation via local and digital media.”

A phone number associated with Fay on whitepages.com was not in service, and Fay did not respond to a Facebook message requesting comment on the allegations.

The district has filed a report with the Vancouver Police Department, and the Auditor’s Office forwarded its report to the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The Auditor’s Office recommended that the district try to recover the funds from Fay or its insurance company, along with an additional $6,193 in investigation costs.

The Auditor’s Office also noted that the district didn’t have a way to independently verify a business’s credentials before approving them as a vendor. Spolar said by email that the district has since put those controls in place but did not respond to a follow-up question asking what that would entail.

 


Source: https://www.columbian.com

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