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Monday, March 19, 2018

Former Chamber director faces charges of embezzlement (slideshow)

By Anthony Varriano

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

Kimberly Trangmoe, former Glendive Chamber of Commerce executive director, was arrested for allegedly embezzling chamber funds.

 She was arrested Thursday afternoon on a felony count of theft of property by embezzlement pursuant to a common scheme. 

The charges stem from incidents occurring between February 2008 to September 2012, when Trangmoe allegedly used funds from several chamber accounts fraudulently, and without the chamber’s permission, for her own personal benefit. 

Dawson County Correctional Facility Warden Tom Green said Trangmoe was released on $10,000 bond at approximately 9 p.m., Thursday night.

An investigation by forensic accountant and auditor Laura Hughes with the Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation found the transactions in question totaled $48,807. Of those funds, Hughes’ audit determined that $8,311.11 benefitted the chamber, $18,680.30 directly benefitted Trangmoe, and $21,815.95 in funds are still under investigation.

“Because the Chamber had limited primary income sources and those usually came just two times per year, the chamber’s resources for day-to-day operations often fell short. The movement of money between accounts increased in the years 2008 to 2012 and did overdraft charges,” charging documents state.

From January 2008 until Trangmoe left in October 2012, the chamber was assessed a total of $10,050 in overdraft fees, which were included in the audit findings. Since Trangmoe was responsible for the various chamber accounts, she was also responsible for the overdraft fees. All told, Hughes determined Trangmoe could be responsible for $28,730.30. That amount may increase as the investigation continues.

According to court documents, Trangmoe sent a $6,433.38 e-check on March 30, 2010 from the Chamber’s Caviar Reserve account to Johnson, Rodenburg & Lauringer, a law firm in North Dakota, which at the time specialized in debt collection. Hughes was told by Charles Dendy, of Rodenburg Law Firm, which replaced JR&L, that the action was against debtor Daryl Trangmoe, but the payment was made over the phone by Kimberly Trangmoe. Daryl was Kim’s husband at the time.

Another payment from the Chamber’s secondary account was to DCI Credit Service on Feb. 12, 2009 for $1,028.87. Hughes contacted DCI Credit Service and confirmed the payment was for a personal debt of the Trangmoe’s and not a chamber-related debt. 

The audit also showed that Trangmoe issued herself an additional paycheck between pay periods on Jan. 31, 2012 in the amount of $892.48. Trangmoe was paid every two weeks and during this four week time period, she paid herself three times. 

Of the $21,815.95 that is still in question, transactions with companies such as LTD Commodities, Finger Hut, Bags Unlimited, Wishes & Dreams, F&G Pharmacy, Albertson’s, Reynolds, K-mart, Wal-mart, Sears, MadHatters, Iron Horse Brewery, Wheat Montana Bakeries, Vista Print, and various gas purchases are still being investigated.

The Chamber Board of Directors began an audit of accounts when the organization received several overdraft notices as well as documentation that taxes were not filed on the organization for several years. Alisha Henderson and Norm Unterseher, who were chamber board members at that time, began to look through financial documents and flagged expenditures they believed to be unrelated to chamber activities. They then put together all financial banking records and made a complaint to the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office, who enlisted the assistance of the Division of Criminal Investigation and Forensic Accounting services. Banking records were then transferred to Hughes.

Trangmoe was hired before current Chamber President Chris Undem came on board. 

“She seemed like a good employee,” Undem said in a phone interview on Thursday.

Trangmoe is currently the vice chairwoman of the Southeast Montana Tourism Board of Directors. 

“Kim has served well as our vice chair promoting tourism in southeast Montana... she works in a position that has nothing to do with finance,” chairwoman Laura Lee Ulrich said Friday.

If convicted, Trangmoe could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and fines up to $50,000.

Anthony Varriano can be contacted at rrwriter@rangerreview.com.


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