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Former Fayette clerk charged with misuse of funds

Amount taken comes to more than two years of budget

 

Robert Stevens

Managing editor

7/12/18

Tracy Mellor

FAYETTE—The former Fayette town clerk has been charged with embezzling more than $220,000 over the span of a decade.

The clerk, Tracy Kay Mellor, 63, was taken into custody on Thursday, July 5, and booked into the Sanpete County Jail.

“It looks like this has been going on for a while,” said Detective Derick Taysom of the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO).

According to the police report, the alleged embezzlement may have been stretching back for a decade or more. Evidence found by investigators supports allegations that Mellor has been consistently stealing thousands of dollars every month from a town whose annual budget is less than $100,000.

Deputy County Attorney Wes Mangum, who is handling the prosecution of Mellor’s case, said it was disconcerting that there had been possible misuse of public funds dating back that far.

“Once the investigation was completed and the information was passed on to our office for review, we found that there was a plethora of evidence supporting the alleged misuse of public funds by the defendant, Tracy Mellor,” Mangum said. “I am confident in the investigation performed by our law enforcement and the information provided to our office to which I believe support the charges that are alleged to have been committed by the defendant in this case.”

Mellor is being charged with nine counts of misuse of public money, a third-degree felony. If convicted, it could mean a prison sentence of zero to five years in the Utah State Prison.

Mellor quit her job in January after a confrontation with the new town mayor, Brenda Liefson.

The mayor had become concerned over two missing checks, reported SCSO Detective Sergeant Chad Nielson. The checks were supposed to have gone to the Utah State Office of Trustee. They never made it.

After the confrontation with Mellor, Liefson began reviewing the town’s bank statements and, according to the police report, she “started finding things that concerned her.”

Liefson began discovering a number of checks written from the town to a company listed as R&T’s dating back to 2009.

R&T’s is the business owned by Mellor and her husband Randy. Liefson told investigators there were no invoices for services performed by R&T’s in the town’s records.

Nielson reviewed Fayette’s financial records and found altered documents in which Mellor had changed the returned check copies naming R&T’s to other vendor names commonly used by the town of Fayette.

In one of the fraudulent financial documents, Mellor changed the check’s vendor name to “Utah Power and Light—an obvious indication of her deception towards the town council,” Nielson wrote in his report.

The investigators, with assistance from the Utah State Auditor’s Office, turned their attention to Mellor’s bank records. According to the police report, Mellor’s primary account was at Zions Bank.

Due to the large volume of apparent fraud, the investigation focused on a specific period from 2014-2018.

After reviewing Mellor’s bank records in detail, investigators identified 37 fraudulent transactions deposited into her Zions Bank account between January 2014 and July 2015, in amounts ranging from $900-$1800.

Investigators interviewed three previous Fayette mayors, all who told investigators that Mellor was in total control of city checks and could write them at will.

All three former mayors said R&T never provided a service to Fayette.

Two of the three former mayors identified signatures on R&T’s checks as forgeries.

According to Nielson’s report, when he called Tracy and Randy Mellor and asked them to meet him at the sheriff’s office, Tracy Mellor told him she had retained an attorney.

The same day, the Mellors met Detective Taysom at the sheriff’s office and she was booked “without incident”.

Sheriff’s records show that approximately $229,000 have been transferred from Fayette Town to the R&T’s account since 2009.

When asked by the Messenger why she thought it had taken so long for such a large and blatant misuse of public funds to come to light and what would be done moving forward to prevent it from happening again, Liefson said she didn’t know and declined further comment. But she suggested the same questions be posed to previous mayors.

When the Messenger inquired with former Fayette Town Mayor and current Sanpete County Commissioner, Scott Bartholomew, who served as mayor during a portion of Mellor’s time as a town employee, he also declined to comment.

Mellor is out on a bail bond of $45,000 and had her initial appearance in court yesterday.