River District believes no money taken by accused embezzler | PostIndependent.com
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River District believes no money taken by accused embezzler

Dennis Webb

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A spokesperson for a taxpayer-funded water agency says the organization believes no money was stolen from it by its former staff accountant, who is accused of embezzling from a Glenwood Springs orthodontist.Cheryl Dunlap resigned from the Glenwood Springs-based Colorado River Water Conservation District in July after being charged in June in connection with the alleged embezzlement of more than $250,000 from Dr. John Traul.Dunlap, a Silt-area resident, had served as Traul’s bookkeeper while also working for the river district.River district spokesman Peter Roessmann would not say if Dunlap was asked to resign from the river district after her arrest.Roessmann said the district’s accounting system is designed to prevent embezzlement.”No one individual has the ability to do things and hide them,” Roessmann said.”We have no reason to believe that there have been any accounting irregularities.”However, Roessmann said the district’s board of directors is having it undergo a thorough review by an outside agency to make sure systems are in place to ensure public accountability and trust.”Given the circumstances, the board thought it was the prudent thing to do,” Roessmann said.The river district consists of 15 Western Slope counties, and promotes their interests regarding water conservation and development in the Colorado River watershed. Its annual general fund budget is more than $3 million.Roessmann said the river district is not a cash-based agency, so embezzling from it is more difficult. Also, accounting roles are broken up so one person handles incoming funds, another cuts checks, and yet another signs them, with a second signature often required.”It’s a system that basically is just good accounting practices,” he said.The district also uses outside accountants in addition to its staff one and undergoes an annual audit, Roessmann said.Dunlap is accused of writing 111 bogus checks totaling $252,087.62 on Traul’s accounts between April 1999 and February 2004.Dunlap appeared in court last week for arraignment, but the hearing was postponed until Dec. 9 so attorneys could continue to discuss a possible plea agreement.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516dwebb@postindependent.com


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