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Ravalli Co. treasurer delivers scathing indictment against county servants

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: Jan 21 2014 11:30:27 AM MST
Updated On: Jan 22 2014 11:15:09 AM MST

Valerie Stamey was scheduled to deliver a treasurer's report on her troubled office.

Instead she took the time to accuse former county treasurer workers and a county commissioner with corruption.

RAVALLI COUNTY -

More controversy in the Ravalli County treasurer's office. Valerie Stamey's appearance Tuesday in front of the county commissioners took a surprise twist.

Stamey is under fire for late deposits and payments and unbalanced books. She was scheduled to deliver a treasurer's report to commissioners.

But instead of a report on the current state of the treasurer's books, she delivered a scathing indictment against a half dozen current and former county employees.

She called her own office a "crime scene of past illegal activity."

NBC Montana has found out the state revenue department may penalize Ravalli County if three months worth of delinquent reports aren't turned in soon.

Stamey told commissioners and a roomful of spectators that what you see in the papers is an orchestrated and vile campaign to destroy her character to protect "corrupt County Commissioner J.R. Iman, who's been protected by Commission Chair Greg Chilcott."

"The further purposes of this character assassination," said Stamey, "were to cover up missing files that were intentionally removed from the Treasurer's Office by Joanne Johnson."

Stamey went on to accuse county treasurer workers past and present, and even involved the county's chief financial officer.

If anybody was expecting a treasurer's report on late deposits and payments to scores of government entities and ordinary taxpayers, it wasn't the message Stamey delivered.

Stamey said she found corruption in the treasurer's office and it goes all the way to the commissioners. And she claims to be the victim.

"A vile campaign," Stamey called it, "to destroy my character."

Stamey went on to say, "the further purposes of this character assassination were to cover up missing files that were removed from the Treasurer's office by Joanne Johnson."

Johnson is a  former county treasurer. She quit after commissioners appointed Stamey. So did Johnson's colleagues, Mary Borden and Linda Isaacs.

"These missing files contained receipts and documenting including expenditures of federal monies," said Stamey, "and to hide the illegal selling tax liens by Linda Isaacs and Mary Borden."

Stamey said she will bring suit against these parties.

Johnson had no comment. But her sister LaVonne Miller did.

"Whatever Val is trying to pull out of the slums," said Miller, "is not true. Joanne tried to teach Val and it didn't work."

Former tax clerk Borden said, "Our work speaks for itself. We have done nothing wrong."

Former head tax clerk Isaacs called it "a smoke screen to cover up what Stamey herself has done wrong."

But Stamey went on. And she focused on commissioner Iman.

"I have contacted and am requesting a full investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation," said Stamey.

She said Iman deprived her of personal access to the treasurer's bank accounts and prohibited her from learning the combination to the treasurer's safe.

Stamey said she pleaded with commissioners Greg Chilcott and Jeff Burrows to do something about Iman. But she said her pleas fell on deaf ears.

After the meeting, Iman told NBC Montana it's premature to say anything. He had no comment.

Chilcott said he was disappointed.

"We expected a report on the state of the reconciliation and balance sheets from the treasurer's office," said Chilcott, "and we heard none of that."

"It is clear that numerous records of receipts and deposits have been removed from the treasurer's office," said Stamey.

"I asked Klarryce Murphy (chief financial officer) where these files are," said Stamey, and she told me "they were removed for an audit."

But Murphy, who last week released more than $1 million in tax money to pay strapped entities caught in the treasurer's debacle, said "that is clearly untrue."

"I have never told her that," said the county's CFO. "I have none of her files."

Stamey also accused Bonnie Dugan of intimidating an employee trying to catalog the extent of the files Stamey claims are missing.

Reading Stamey's transcript, Dugan said, "I don't feel I've ever been intimidating."

She read further that Stamey was suspending her with pay, citing that Dugan's "continued presence in the office will contaminate necessary investigations."

Stamey said further that all correspondence with her office be in nonelectronic writing directed solely to Valerie Stamey, Ravalli County Treasuer.

She said all other intra-county communications will not be recognized nor acted upon. Taxpayer requests or calls from non-Ravalli County entities that I wish to take will be recognized, said the treasurer.

Stamey said all other signatories on Treasury Office accounts at First Interstate Bank besides her own will be removed, or she she will change banks.

Stamey said the Treasurer's office will be closed between 12 and 1 p.m. every working day.

She also told county commissioners they will allocate necessary funds for the protection of public records in her office, including a security guard, or she will seek a court order.

Ravalli County Correspondence Documents: