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Former mosquito district clerk charged with theft in the first degree

 


A former mosquito district clerk is being charged with theft in the first degree and misappropriation of funds by the Grant County Prosecutor’s Office.

Karyn M. Byam, 40, of Electric City, who was a clerk for Grant County Mosquito District 2, was charged Dec. 17, on the two counts and probably will be arraigned sometime in early January, county Prosecutor Garth Dano said last week.

Byam allegedly wrote checks for herself for some $129,834, which were questionable, according to a state audit conducted earlier this year and a months-long investigation by the Grand Coulee Police Department.

The misappropriation of funds charge stems from activity between 2010 and 2014. Byam had been clerk for the mosquito district for some 20 years. The other years were not part of the investigation.

Dano stated that the charges have been sent to a Grant County Superior Court judge to determine probable cause. If affirmed, Byam will be summoned for arraignment, likely in January, he said.

Byam resigned her position with the mosquito district March 4, after being questioned by the investigative unit of the State Auditor’s Office.

The audit report, issued July 9, prompted an investigation by Grand Coulee police.

Auditors noted that, according to board minutes, Byam’s pay should have been for 20 hours per month, and that checks, according to district policy, required two signatures; yet she was allowed to sign checks using only her signature.

The mosquito district commissioners had authorized extra time and the purchase of some computers to implement a new filing and computer system. Four computers were purchased and only one had been turned in, according to Commissioner Diane Canady, who served during part of this time. Other commissioners who served during all or part of the investigative period from 2010-2014 were Bob Boucher, Carl Russell, Holly Allen, Kary Byam and Randy Gumm.

When Byam resigned, she turned over one computer to commissioners. Police were told that “it was never used or had been wiped,” according to the police report. This computer has been sent to the Washington State Patrol High Tech Crime Unit in an attempt to recover any documents that might have been on it. Other computers, purchased by the clerk, were not returned, according to Commissioner Carl Russell.

The police report stated that Byam had issued herself 20 payments of her monthly salary of $1,100, and an additional 20 payments of extra work of $755 from January through November 2012. This pattern continued somewhat into 2013, the police investigation revealed.

The investigation showed that Byam’s budgeted salary for 2014 was $14,000, but she drew 30 checks totaling the take-home pay of $59,110.64.

Byam told the State Auditor’s Office in April that she had initially been uncertain as to how she was to be paid per a commission resolution authorizing the extra work, and she had the district chair sign off on her hours.

The theft charge is in regard to three computers allegedly purchased but not returned to the district.

Current commissioners of Mosquito District 2, also known as North Banks Lake Mosquito District, are Randy Gumm, chair; Russell, Canady, Hank Wiebe and Lynda Anderson.

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