Forensic accountant retained for Council on Aging investigation

Forensic accountant retained for Council on Aging investigation

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Oak Bluffs has retained John Sullivan, an accountant with the firm Melanson, Heath & Company of Andover, to investigate financial management of Council on Aging (COA) accounts. Mr. Sullivan is in charge of his firm’s fraud investigation services and has specialized in municipal and nonprofit accounting since 1972, according to the firm’s website.

Mr. Sullivan will work with town accountant Arthur Gallagher to investigate the handling of funds under the control of Council on Aging director Roger Wey. Those funds include the “Quilt Fund,” as well as money from the use of the COA building and revenue derived from road races Mr. Wey has organized. The core of the issue has to do with money connected with these activities having been deposited in accounts other than municipal accounts.

Mr. Wey has been on paid administrative leave since February 11, after selectmen, acting on the advice of town labor counsel Jack Collins, asked Oak Bluffs police to launch an investigation into questionable accounting practices at the COA. Police on March 6 concluded that probable cause did not exist to charge Mr. Wey with a criminal violation. However, Mr. Collins, in a sharply worded memo to the selectmen, recommended that a more thorough examination of accounts be undertaken.

Chairman of the selectmen Walter Vail said that Mr. Sullivan’s services will cost the town anywhere from $50 to $210 per hour, but the investigator has had little to do thus far because many of the necessary documents have not been made available to him.

“As of this morning, we’re not able to get all the statements we need,” Mr. Vail said in a phone interview with The Times on Tuesday. “I’ve been told Glenna [Barkan, Quilt Fund treasurer] is tired of hearing from us, but we need a waiver from her to get information from Edgartown National Bank that allows us to properly examine the books.”

Mr. Vail said there is an even quicker way to resolve the matter.

“I keep suggesting to people who know Roger that it would be a very good thing if he could come to us and say, ‘I’ll give you everything I’ve got, and I’ll help in every extent I can, and I will try to fix it.’”

Mr. Vail said some in the community think the matter should be dealt with in executive session. Mr. Vail has remained steadfast that the proceedings remain transparent and in open session.

“We’re just trying to forge ahead to get all the facts. We need to move this along,” Mr. Vail said. “The longer this goes on the worse it gets. I want to put this to bed.”

Mr. Wey has vigorously maintained he has done nothing wrong. In a phone call with the Times on Monday, he declined to comment.

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