Saturday, August 3, 2013

Donald Meyer - Mishandling of Money

In March, 2012, Mr. Donald Meyer, the Facilities Manager for The Carr P Collins Social Services Center, owned and operated by The Salvation Army, mishandled money on two separate occasions.  The incidents related to the sale of scrap metal.  At the time I was the Finance Manager for the facility.

The Carr P Collins policy and procedure for selling scrap metal is simple.  It must be sold to an approved dealer who issues a weight ticket showing a calculation of the amount paid for the scrap metal.  The representative selling scrap metal must immediately turn any cash received over to the Finance Department along with a weight ticket.    This procedure ensures timely accounting for the cash receipt and creates the proper audit trail which adheres to  Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

One of the employees who observed what we now know was Meyer's second incident with respect to the sale of scrap metal.was a finance department employee who knew the procedure for selling scrap metal and handling the cash received for it.  She was the employee to who should have received the money and supporting documents from Meyer and she had not received the money or support for it.  She reported to me that she had observed and the fact that she had not received money for the sale of scrap.

I reported the incident to Meyer's supervisor, Jeffrey Upperman, Associate Director for the Carr P Collins Facility.  Upperman stated that he was not aware of the sale, but he would remind Mr. Meyer to turn in the money and weight ticket.

Later that day Upperman informed my staff that Meyer sold the scrap metal for $150.00 and would be turning over the money and weight ticket.  Approximately thirty minutes later, Meyer turned over $127.00 in cash, stating it was for the sale of scrap metal.  No weight ticket was offered.  I instructed one of my staff to call the approved scrap metal dealer and request copies of the weight ticket. 

She was told by the approved dealer that no one from The Salvation Army sold scrap metal to them on the date in question.    The procedure for selling scrap metal was not followed.  We had to ask Meyer for the money he received and he turned in an amount that was $23 less than he told his supervisor he received.

Meyer was reminded by a finance staff member that the finance department needed support for the cash receipt.  Meyer said he did not have support documentation,  but he did offer the name of the scrap metal dealer who allegedly purchased the scrap metal.  The finance department attempted to contact the scrap dealer by phone, but did not get an answer.  The purpose of the attempted contact was to ask the dealer to fax a copy of the receipt and weight ticket to The Salvation Army.

On the morning of March 30th Mr. Meyer turned in a support document dated March 30th for the $127.00 he turned in on March 28th.  The document did have a company name, but no information with respect to weight and price per pound for the $127.00 payment.  The document did not meet accounting standards. 

Later that day finance was informed me of another issue.  Meyer and one of his staff was observed loading scrap metal in the warehouse about one week prior to the March 28h incident.  Meyer had not turned in money and support for scrap metal he was observed loading a week earlier than the March 28th incident.

I reported the earlier incident to his supervisor, Jeffrey Upperman.  Again, Upperman stated that he knew nothing about it, but would talk to Meyer. 

I also informed The Human Resources Manager, Kacye Harvey who told me she would look at surveillance camera tapes from the warehouse to see if scrap metal was loaded by Meyer a week earlier.  I told her I would follow up with the scrap dealer and try to verify the authenticity of the receipt.  She agreed it was appropriate for me to do it

The next day I went to the scrap metal dealer and request back up documentation for the receipt provided by Meyer.  The dealer informed me that he had not purchased any scrap metal from Meyer, or anyone else from The Salvation Army.

I returned to the office and informed the Human Resources Manager what I had learned.  By then she had visited with The Director of Operations, Blake Fetterman about the issue.  Harvey asked me why I followed up with the scrap dealer.  I reminded her that she agreed it was an accounting issue.  She said there was no hurry and that Fetterman wanted it handled discreetly.

I disagreed with respect to the urgency of the matter, from an accounting standpoint and assured Harvey that I was handling the matter discreetly.  Any disciplinary action that may resulted from Meyer not following Salvation Army procedures was a Human Resources matter, but the documentation issue was a finance department matter.

Later that day Upperman and Fetterman came to my office to confront me.  Both were upset that I was investigating the issue.  Upperman said there was no issue with anything related to accounting principles.  He also said I was not an auditor and should not have investigated the issue related to Meyer.

Upperman's assertions were laughable.  Both demonstrated his lack of knowledge with respect to accounting principles and internal controls.  One of my duties as Finance Manager was to insure internal controls were maintained and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles were followed.  I had performed audits in the past and was commended by Salvation Army leadership for my work.  This time, instead of supporting me, Upperman called me an “out of control cowboy”.  I took exception to that characterization and told him so.

Fetterman then tried a different spin.  She said my actions placed The Salvation Army at risk for legal action; an opinion she alleged came from the Human Resources Manager, Kacye Harvey.  To this day Harvey has never conveyed that opinion to me.  Why?  Harvey knows my actions were within legal boundaries.  She knew then and knows today that I did my job.

I told Fetterman and Upperman that it was my opinion I was doing my job; something I have since verified with the internal audit staff at The Texas Divisional Headquarters of The Salvation Army and The Financial Secretary, Durai Pandithurai.  I was doing my job, no question about it.

Fetterman then said, “I don’t believe Donald Meyer would steal money.  He is a minister and has his own church.”  I confess that I was surprised to hear the Meyer was a minister, given the language I heard him use in the past.  However, that was irrelevant with respect to the issue at hand.

Fetterman's us of the word "steal" was the first time anyone used that word with respect to the incident.  I was trying to secure the proper documentation for an accounting transaction and had accused no one of theft.  I was concerned about the fact that Meyer had not been forthcoming about a possible earlier incident when he was asked about the March 28th sale, but made no accusation with respect to theft. 

At that time I did mention my concerns that Meyer had not been forthcoming with respect to a possible earlier sale of scrap metal.  Being asked about a sale on March 28th should have jogged his memory about a sale he made a week earlier.  I asked Fetterman and Upperman if they wondered  why Meyer had not volunteered information about an earlier sale at the time he was asked about a sale he made on March 28th.  There was no answer to that question.

Finally, Fetterman offered her real concern.  She did not want any information relating to Meyer leaving The Carr P Collins facility.  She did not want her bosses at The Dallas/Fort Worth Area Command for The Salvation Army to know about the issue.  It was her position that we were working to recover The Salvation Army's money and the issue was a "closed matter".

It is important to note here that at least seven other employees had first-hand knowledge of the incident and the issue was being talked about throughout the facility at the time Upperman and Fetterman paid their "closed mater" visit to my office.  Ignoring it, from a finance department perspective, was not an option.

I documented my findings and turned them over to Human Resources.  Fetterman, Upperman and Harvey swept the issue under the carpet, never once considering it was not the ethical thing to do and never once considering that loyal employees throughout the facility knew about the incident.  Director Blake Fetterman only wanted to make sure her superiors did not find out about the incident.  She covered up the incident to avoid embarrassment.

A day or two after Fetterman and Upperman confronted me, Upperman gave the finance department $160.00 cash, stating it was for the first sale of scrap by Meyer.  Upperman turned the money over to the finance department with a note stating documentation related to the sale of the scrap metal could be found in Human Resources.  Donald Meyer still works at the facility.  Case closed?  No, incident covered up.

The handling of the incident by Fetterman, Upperman and Harvey was an embarrassment and a testament to the fact that they are not ethical.  Numerous employees know the three of them swept the incident under the carpet.  Those same employees know that a counselor was terminated for taking $5.00 from a client.  Meyer was a manager at Carr P Collins; he got a pass for mishandling much more money.

Until now, I have not discussed the details of the incident with anyone other than those mentioned in this piece.  However, I was asked about it by numerous employees who knew a cover up had taken place.  I performed the duties of my job ethically.

Fetterman, Upperman and Harvey are very intelligent people.  There is no question that they know they did not handle the issue with Donald Meyer by any standards approaching ethical behavior. Fettermand an Upperman wanted to avoid the embarrassment of having Salvation Army leadership find out that one of its managers got away with breaking rules for which others are terminated.

I believe Harvey was apparently talked into turning her head for future considerations.  Within months of the incident she was promoted to Human Resources Manager at The Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex Command (Area Command).  She was recommended for the job by Blake Fetterman.  With Kacye Harvey's promotion, knowledge of the Donald Meyer incident made it to The Area Command of The Salvation Army where the cover up was still a secret until I wrote this piece.

What about the five core values of The Salvation Army?

Trustworthy. How trustworthy is someone who hides the truth and shirks responsibilities?  Fetterman, Upperman and Harvey all swept the incidents under the carpet and chastised me for doing my job.

Uplifting. Is covering up the truth uplifting to the loyal employees who know the truth? 

Bravery. Only cowards hides the truth.  Facing the truth would be an example of bravery.

Compassionate.  Were the actions of Fetterman, Upperman and Harvey compassionate toward Donald Meyer, or did they just empower him with respect to breaking the rules. 

Passionate. Fetterman and Upperman were certainly passionate in their attempts to coerce me into ignoring my duties as The Finance Manager of The Carr P Collins facility.  However, neither of them passionately approached their jobs with any semblance of ethical behavior.
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