State auditor completes audit on City of Blackwell

July 8, 2021 | Featured|Headlines

OKLAHOMA CITY — A 57-page investigative audit on the City of Blackwell, conducted by the State Auditors office, at the request of Kay County District Attorney Brian Hermanson, is complete and indicates that transactions between G&C Concrete and the City of Blackwell totaling $129,489.50 appear to have violated the law.

Mayor T.J. Greenfield owned G&C Concrete until 2018.

The audit focuses on transactions that occurred between June 2016 and June 2020 

Those who served the City during that time are, Greenfield, and city council members Tom Beliel, Richard Braden, Steve Marquardt, Jon Webb; City managers Chip Outlier and Janet Smith and current city attorney Bryce Kennedy.

The report describes the City of Blackwell as embroiled in conflict, strife and political turmoil for many years. It refers to the political climate in Blackwell as toxic at times and states that the hostility between council members and selected city officials made it difficult to obtain the unbiased information needed to complete the audit.

Auditors report that a significant portion of the information received was conflicting and hindered the ability to confirm the exact circumstances surrounding the transactions under investigation.

Auditors report that purchases were made with city credit cards and that the city council did not receive copies of the credit card statements for review or approval and that council members, Webb, Braden, Beliel and Marquardt, claimed they had no first hand knowledge of the purchases.

Auditors also report that between 2014 and 2017, over 40 employees utilized city credit cards incurring costs in excess of $1.9 million and that none of the charges were accompanied by purcahse orders or approved by the council.

The audit report indicates that G&C was paid with the city’s credit card from June 16 through April of 2018 and that Greenfield and the city clerk, co-signed the payment checks.

Marquardt, Beliel and Braden claimed they did not know that the city was conducting business via credit card with G&C Concrete.

Auditors also mention a “straw purchase” between the City of Tokawa, G&C Concrete and the City of Blackwell.

It is reported that the City of Tonkawa purchased assets from G&C as part of a business liquidation auction and sold them to the City of Blackwell with out first taking possession of the items. Auditors report that the purchase indirectly profited Greenfield and appears to have been a violation.

Auditors report that the discovery and reporting of the transactions resulted in city officials recognizing their lack of policies and procedures regarding credit transactions and that changes have been made.

It is up to the district attorney to decide if any charges will be filed in the matter. The entire audit can be viewed online here