In 2015, Garfield County accidentally found out that John Martin was pocketing per diem payments intended to pay for his meals while attending Nat’l Assoc. of Counties conventions and instead charged those expenses to his county credit card. This discovery prompted the county to pay an auditing firm $7,500.00 to perform an outside investigation of John Martin to audit his expenses when attending those conventions from 2013 to February of 2015. This investigation concluded that Martin blatantly violated of the travel expenditures and credit card use policies he himself created and passed. Martin should have given the $1,800.00 in per diem to the county instead of pocketing it and Martin’s $2,969.65 of charges on county credit card violated policy because he failed to keep documentation required by the IRS and county policy to substantiate the business purpose of such charges. See the outside auditor’s report here. See the documents supporting the auditor’s opinion here.
While Martin’s failure to properly document these charges triggers a personal responsibility provision of the credit card policy that would require Martin to reimburse the county for all of the charges made, the investigation recommended that the county only demand reimbursement for $1,800.00 in per diem. John Martin paid $1,000.00 in cash for this reimbursement and the other two Republican Commissioners, Sampson and Jankovsky, strangely and without explanation, each wrote a check for $400 each to make up the balance of the $1,800 attributed solely to Martin. See the checks here.
This investigation found thousands of dollars misused by Martin but was so limited in scope and time period there could be thousands more pocketed or misspent on personal items that were not uncovered. Multiple county employees, who are too frightened of losing their jobs to publicly speak, report that such conduct has been going on far longer than the time period studied. Our county employees need the whistle blower protection promised by Acha. See details here.
While Martin’s bad behavior is enough to merit a full audit of all per diem he received and of his expenses charged to the county, the county failed to have a broader, longer, or wider investigation conducted. See the county’s response to our CORA request that confirms this here. Conveniently, the county manager who retained the investigators to perform this limited audit, Andrew Gorgey, left the county’s employ essentially contemporaneously with the results of the investigation. John Martin embezzled money from the county and instead of trying to uncover the extent of his malfeasance and obtain justice for the taxpayers of the Garfield County; the powers that really run our county covered it up. Thankfully, the combination of CORA and hard work uncovered this evidence so the public may know that John Martin is an embezzler.
Attached is a legal opinion of Ryan Gilman, a local attorney and John Acha’s campaign manager, concluding that John Martin’s scheme violated C.R.S. §18-8-407(1) as he embezzled public property. Such violation is a Class 5 Felony that is punished by fines, imprisonment, and lifetime bar from elected office. If there are enough facts to sustain a charge based on this limited investigation, just imagine what crimes would be uncovered by an investigation with a broader scope. See the legal analysis, opinion and conclusion here.
John Martin claims he’s never violated a rule or law. Unfortunately, that’s not true. He knowingly misappropriated county funds for his own use. We cannot tolerate this.