Cherokee elections supervisor fired, under investigation
by Michelle Babcock
July 03, 2014 12:00 AM | 4876 views | 4 4 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Janet Munda
Janet Munda
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Cherokee County Elections Supervisor Janet Munda was fired Wednesday amid a criminal investigation initiated in June into allegations she used a county credit card for unauthorized purchases.

The Cherokee County Board of Elections voted unanimously at a specially called meeting to terminate Munda from her appointed position as elections supervisor and voter registrar, effective immediately.

A letter of termination outlined seven county policies Munda was accused of violating, including misconduct, carelessness or negligence with county money, inappropriate handling of county funds and failure to follow procedure for use of county funds.

Munda could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison said no charges had been filed as of Wednesday, and the criminal investigation was expected to continue for at least a few more weeks, as county credit card records going back more than a year are obtained by authorities.

“At this point, we have examined that 12-month period, and we’re certainly going to continue going beyond that,” Garrison said. “I don’t know how far, but we are certainly looking at issues beyond 12 months … We’ll go as far back as we need to.”

Munda made an annual salary of $72,100 and had been working for the Board of Elections as the elections supervisor for 10 years, officials said.

In the letter sent to Munda Wednesday obtained by the Tribune, Board of Elections Chairman Randy Gravley said Munda’s actions “simply cannot be tolerated.”

“The board’s utmost responsibility is to the integrity of the Elections Office and the citizens of this county,” the letter signed by Gravley said. “It is with great shock and regret that your tenure with the Board of Elections is ending in this manner.”

In the letter, Gravley directed Munda to “immediately surrender” all credentials, keys, cards, passwords and other property of the Cherokee County Elections Office, including “any and all funds that have been improperly taken.”

In a sheriff’s office incident report filed June 17, Investigator Nathan Luca with the Sheriff’s Office Financial Crimes Unit said County Manager Jerry Cooper reported “improper use of county resources in the form of unauthorized purchases made on the county credit card account.”

Garrison said Cooper had been contacted by the Board of Elections about irregularities on one of the county’s credit cards.

Cooper said Wednesday he was first alerted to the possibility of county credit card misuse two months ago.

“Employees with the Board of Elections brought the issue to my attention, and following my investigation, I turned the matter over to the Sheriff’s Office,” Cooper said. “The purchase card is to be used only for legitimate business purposes in compliance with the Procurement Ordinance.”

The Tribune obtained a copy of the policy, as well as a form, signed by Munda, acknowledging her understanding of the policy.

“Violations of these requirements may result in revocation of use privileges and/or disciplinary action, including investigation by law enforcement and/or termination of employment,” the policy form signed by Munda stated. “Employees who are found to have inappropriately used the Procurement Card will be required to reimburse the County for all costs associated with such improper use.”

Cooper added, “I have not issued her final pay check and we will be discussing the issue of recoupment internally.”

In the incident report obtained by the Tribune, Luca said Cooper provided investigators with about a year’s worth of account statements “for the card in the care and control of Janet Munda.”

Though preliminary results of the investigation could not be released to the public Wednesday, Garrison said the information was shared with the Board of Elections before their vote.

“We provided preliminary results to the board, and based on that, they decided to take action,” Garrison said. “There’s a lot of investigation because we’re dealing with a paper trail.”

Garrison said the investigation could continue for a few weeks, as records are obtained are examined.

“With it being the holiday, it’s not going to be just one week, it’ll be a couple weeks at least until we’re able to turn anything over to the district attorney,” Garrison said.

Garrison said it was too soon to make a determination of whether charges would be filed or not.

The decision to fire Munda stemmed from the active criminal investigation, Gravley said in a prepared statement following the vote.

“I would like to make it very, very clear that this termination has nothing to do with any wrongdoing or irregularities regarding voting or election procedures,” Gravley said Wednesday.

Board of Elections member Cindy Castello made the motion to terminate Munda at Wednesday’s meeting, which was seconded by member Donald Sams.

Because Munda’s termination is part of an active investigation and it was a personnel matter, Gravley said the board had no further comments. Munda was notified of her termination Wednesday, Gravley confirmed.

The board appointed Kim Stancil, assistant director of elections, as the interim supervisor of elections and registration, until a permanent supervisor is appointed, Gravley said.

Comments
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Local n Mad
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July 03, 2014
Now the stage is set to monkey with votes in the upcoming Commission Chair race. Wake up people Cherokee County is corrupt. This is not a charge that could not be levied toward many other officials, they needed this charge to get her out of the way. Get ready people you are about to see a show. They will let her go with minor charges but with a gag order not to talk about anything she knows.
Local n Happy
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July 03, 2014
Local n mad . . . Frankly, I'm proud of the firing of anyone who abuses the use of county money. This has nothing to do with corruption in Cherokee County other than the fact that there was enough evidence to take action when action was needed. Kudos for those who suspected corruption and to the Board of Elections for requesting an investigation! We need more people with this type of courage!

Cherokee Voter
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July 03, 2014
With the Bobo problems and now this, one has to wonder if anyone is auditing expenditures in County Government?

Perhaps the head of the Finance Department should also roll.

Are there no checks/balances of credit cards??
Karl Marx
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July 03, 2014
No there is no "Checks and Balance" system for County Government. They have been doing anything they want. All they have to do is raise taxes and they are going to do again this year for us to pay for their mistakes. Everyone keeps voting them in so we deserve this SO suck it up a take it. They know you can't do anything about it.
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