Attorneys find discrepancies in Berrien County officials money dealings

Board attorneys representing the fire departments of Coloma and Hagar have launched a preliminary investigation into former Berrien County fire board treasurer Robert Wooley and his transactions with department money. 

The attorneys did a review of the banking and payroll activity of the fire board for the past 36 months. And in this document they outlined a few things they described as “unusual” involving money straight out of tax payer funds.

One key finding was a signature on a check for $6,000 from fire board chairman Rob Harper. The review found the signature didn't match.

The check was made out to cash.

The review also notes a check from 2012 written to Jackson National Life Insurance for more than $200. According to the attorney's office, the fire chief confirmed that the board does not authorize direct payments for life insurance.

And a look back at other checks showed a lot of weaving in and out of accounts. They involved written out payments to the North Berrien Senior Center, which Wooley is charged with embezzling thousands from. One of those checks was for $40,000.

The review says software showed the check being payable to “Honor Credit Union.” But the actual copy of the check is written out to the senior center.

The attorneys note that this is just a preliminary review that's scope is substantially less than what a forensic audit will provide. It only provides evidence that fraud could have occurred. 

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