State audit questions mileage reimbursements claimed by Lancaster County treasurer, who faces charges in car sales case

State audit questions mileage reimbursements claimed by Lancaster County treasurer, who faces charges in car sales case

LINCOLN — A state audit released Wednesday questioned the mileage reimbursements claimed by embattled Lancaster County Treasurer Andy Stebbing in recent years.

According to an audit letter, most of the reimbursed mileage “appeared to be questionable, unreasonable or not supported based on the locations of travel stated on the expense forms.”

The letter, sent from State Auditor Charlie Janssen’s office, recommended that the Lancaster County Board consult with the county attorney about “possible legal” aspects of the findings.

Board Chairman Todd Wiltgen responded with a statement apologizing to taxpayers and reaffirming the board’s commitment to protecting public dollars.

“As stewards of Lancaster County taxpayer dollars, the Lancaster County Board is extremely concerned with the findings of the Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts report regarding potentially unlawful reimbursements made to the Lancaster County Treasurer,” he said.

Wiltgen said the board would discuss the audit findings at its staff meeting today.

Meanwhile, he said the board has strengthened the county’s reimbursement policies. It is requiring more documentation to back up mileage claims and travel costs. It also has empowered staff to question and investigate claims that appear to violate county policies.

Stebbing did not return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Last month, Stebbing was bound over to Lancaster County District Court on two counts of income tax evasion, two counts of falsifying vehicle titles and one count of selling cars without a license.

Each charge carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Some of the mileage examined in the audit appeared to be related to the allegations that Stebbing had been selling cars without a dealer’s license.

State auditors looked at his expense claims from June 2014 through February this year.

According to their report, he had claimed 370 miles of travel on 33 days to automobile dealers or auto auctions. The audit said there was no indication that the trips were for official county business.

In addition, the audit found claims for 112 miles of travel on 11 days to Carpet Land, a local flooring store. The trips all occurred in August 2015. The mileage claimed for each trip varied from 6 miles to 14 miles.

Stebbing claimed varying mileage for trips to other frequent destinations.

He claimed distances ranging from 3 miles to 16 miles for trips to one satellite office where county residents can get license plates and driver’s license renewals. He claimed from 3 miles up to 20 miles for trips to the other satellite office.

The claims did not provide enough detail to determine whether the mileage was accurate, such as whether he had made multiple trips in a day.

According to the audit, only four of Stebbing’s 568 mileage claims listed the purpose of the trip. There were 44 days in which he did not list a destination and one in which he did not list a date. Eight claims were for travel on county holidays.

Stebbing earlier resisted Wiltgen’s calls for his resignation.

We strive for accuracy. Report a typo, inaccuracy, or mistake here.