Letter to the Editor: Cooleemee financial situation dire

Published 10:07 am Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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To the editor:

Thank you for your published interest in the financial problems now facing the residents of Cooleemee. Information regarding this serious situation is as varied and questionable as the current political affairs here in our country.

As an ancient native of Cooleemee, I find myself questioning the route this so-called investigation is taking. It seems to be so twisted in the way obvious guilt and innocence have been established. The amount of money embezzled by the former finance director is $383,000. It was stated that a civil lawsuit has been filed against Thies (Aaron Thies, the former director), but nothing has been done to reclaim items known to have been purchased by him and obviously paid for with Cooleemee funds. This infuriated me because he continues to enjoy the use of these items that he does not legally own. Reclamation seems to be an excuse for lack of action. Some of the items, such as two vehicles, a utility trailer and jet ski and trailer, and advance rental payments are among the purchases. The items lose value as long as he is allowed possession. This lack of action is contrary to the legal responsibility of the attorney who has hired by the previous town board to determine his assets and freeze them, supposedly in order to reduce the tremendous loss to the town. The town’s bonding coverage has a $50,000 limit and town insurance coverage maximum was $150,000. Unbelievably, the legal action seeks to recover $125,000 from the ex-mayor and $14,000 from an ex-commissioner. These demands are reported to be the amounts of money that these two elected officials co-signed town checks that were identified by Thies to be legitimate town bills. It has not been proven that either of these people have used a single penny of the town’s money. Yet both have been ridiculed, chastised, ignored and called “thief” by many people, and not just to their backs.

A sad fact that has not been discussed publicly to my knowledge is that the misuse of funds was uncovered two or more months piror to the realization by bank and town officials that there was questionable activity with the town bank account. There must be limited truth in this action or town officials would never have been aware of any malfeasance on the part of Thies.

If there truly will be justice in this sad episode, my hope and prayer is that those who knew of the possibility of misuse of funds by the town finance director and said nothing should be required to repay the town the exact funds that were embezzled. If this does not happen, then our legal system has filed our town miserably.

Sue Steele Correll