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No criminal charges, but Parchment audit shows misuse of city credit cards

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PARCHMENT, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – An investigation looking at the integrity of Parchment’s finances will not result in criminal charges, but it is making the city take a closer look at how employees and elected officials follow policy regarding city credit cards.

In an interview with Newschannel 3’s I-Team, Parchment Mayor Robert Heasley said he learned some city employees had used city-issued credit cards to make personal purchases, which is a violation of state and city policy.

“We became aware after a citizen pointed it out to us,” said Heasley, when asked how the investigation and forensic audit started. “Then we called the State Police because we were aware that a state rule had been broken.”

Heasley says although all of the personal purchases on city-issued credit cards were paid back to the city within days and weeks, some of the purchases took significantly longer for city employees to reimburse.

Some of the purchases involved trips, according to Heasley, who declined to specify names mentioned in the audit.

“We don’t want to harm innocent people by having their names brought out,” he said.

Through a Freedom of Information Act request, the Newschannel 3’s I-Team is seeking to obtain the forensic audit. Heasley has indicated the city is hopeful that it can honor that request.

“Our attorney is still figuring out what to redact,” he said.

The information revealed in the audit is the latest in a string of controversies in Parchment.

In June, the Parchment City Commission accepted the resignation of commissioner Thomas Balmer, who was disillusioned with the direction of the city, citing what he called a lack of financial transparency.

Other citizens later came forward to express similar concerns, resulting in the forensic audit showing misuse of government credit cards.

Adding to the mix of uncertainty was the recent resignation of former City Manager Dennis Durham, who was frequently seen as a polarizing figure by some citizens who disapproved of his demeanor, among other concerns.

Durham did not respond to Newschannel 3’s request to comment on this story.

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