STATE OF MINNESOTA
CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE BOARD
FINDINGS IN THE MATTER OF AN INVESTIGATION REGARDING
As the result of a routine reconciliation audit, the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ("the Board") notified the 42nd Senate District RPM (Committee) of discrepancies between the amount of contributions reported as received by the Committee, and the amount of contributions other political committees reported giving to the Committee. While determining the cause of the discrepancies the Committee became aware that Jeff Gargaro ("Respondent"), former treasurer for the Committee, misappropriated Committee funds and filed false Reports of Receipts and Expenditures in order to conceal the misappropriation. An individual who signs and certifies as true a report knowing it contains false information is in violation of Minn. Stat. 10A.025, subd. 2.
On August 17, 2001, the Board received an amendment from Tom Styczinski, current treasurer of the Committee, which resolved some of the discrepancies identified by the Board. The Board received a letter on August 20, 2001, from Tony Trimble, Trimble & Associates, which stated that his firm was working with current Committee officers to resolve several remaining discrepancies between the Committees records and bank records. Mr. Trimble stated in the letter that the Committee would further amend its Report of Receipts and Expenditures covering calendar year 2000 to disclose the correct information once all relevant information was obtained from the Respondent.
On November 26, 2001, staff met with Matthew Haapoja, Trimble & Associates, and Linda Presthus, and Gerald Paar, Committee co-chairs. During that meeting, staff was made aware that the Respondent misappropriated Committee funds and filed false Reports of Receipts and Expenditures for several years. To correct all reports affected by the activities of the Respondent, the Committee filed amended Reports of Receipts and Expenditures for calendar years 1998, 1999, and 2000 with the Board on January 11, 2001.
At its meeting of December 11, 2001, the Board considered the matter and voted to begin a formal investigation. The Respondent was notified of the allegations and given an opportunity to respond.
The Respondent did not reply.
The Board again considered the matter in executive session on January 25, 2002.
Based on the record before it, the Board issues the following:
STATEMENT OF THE EVIDENCE
1. The 42nd Senate District RPM is a political party unit registered with the Board.
2. The Respondent was treasurer of the Committee from March, 1997, through January, 2001, and was required to file periodic Reports of Receipts and Expenditures on behalf of the Committee.
3. A report required to be filed under Minnesota Statute, Chapter 10A, must be signed and certified as true by the individual required to file the report. During his term as treasurer, the Respondent signed and filed eight reports.
4. As a result of a routine reconciliation audit conducted by the Board in calendar year 2001, it came to the attention of the Committee that the Respondent had misappropriated Committee funds.
5. Based on conversations with the Committee co-chairs, staff was made aware that the Respondent had knowingly filed reports, which contained false information, in order to conceal his misappropriation of funds.
6. A person who signs and certifies to be true a report knowing it contains false information is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
Based on the above Statement of the Evidence, the Board makes the following:
FINDINGS CONCERNING PROBABLE CAUSE
There is probable cause to believe that Jeff Gargaro violated Minn. Stat. 10A.025, when he signed and certified as true Reports of Receipts and Expenditures knowing the disclosed information was false.
Based on the above Findings, the Board issues the following:
Probable cause having been found the Boards Executive Director shall refer this matter to the Hennepin County Attorney and/or the Edina City Attorney for civil enforcement for the violation of Minn. Stat. 10A.025, subd. 2.
The record in this matter is hereby entered into the public record in accordance with Minn. Stat. 10A.02, subd. 11.
Dated: January 25, 2002
Douglas A. Kelley, Chair
Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board