Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District Manager Accused Of Embezzling Over $800K

In 2010, the Gila County Attorney’s Office reported a fraud allegation to the Office of the Auditor General involving the accounting manager for Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District, Rebecca Sigeti. Sigeti was an accountant for a private business, Sunny Mountain Realty, LLC.

The Auditor General’s Office found that from August 2010 through January 2016, Sigeti have embezzled a total of $841,056 from her employers: $524,686 from the District and $316,370 from Sunny Mountain. The alleged embezzled district monies came from customer security deposits and water-use payments as well as taxpayer
property tax payments and should have been used to support district operations, according to the Auditor General’s Office.

The Auditor General’s Office turned over its finding to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, which resulted in her indictment on 40 felony counts.

The Auditor General’s report reads in part:

From August 2010 through January 2016, Sigeti may have violated state laws related to theft, misuse of public monies, fraudulent schemes, computer tampering, money laundering, and forgery when she issued 32 district checks and warrants with forged signatures totaling $524,686 payable to herself and to three businesses for which she managed the bank accounts. Specifically, Ms. Sigeti paid $408,922 of these monies to Sunny Mountain; $93,294 to two businesses she owned with her husband; and $22,470 directly to herself. Ms. Sigeti also falsified district records to help conceal her scheme by recording false payees, omitting payees,
and deleting entries in the District’s accounting software program and in bank account reconciliations.

From August 2010 through September 2015, Ms. Sigeti may have violated state laws related to theft, fraudulent schemes, computer tampering, money laundering, and forgery when she issued 200 Sunny Mountain checks with forged signatures to herself, her creditors, and two of her businesses. These checks totaled $725,292; however, $408,922 of this amount was paid with district monies deposited in Sunny Mountain’s bank account, resulting in an alleged net theft from Sunny Mountain of $316,370. Specifically, Ms. Sigeti issued Sunny Mountain checks totaling $681,092 directly to herself and $44,200 to her businesses and creditors. Ms. Sigeti also falsified Sunny Mountain records by recording false payees, omitting payees, deleting entries in the accounting software program, altering bank statements, and creating false invoices.

Former and current district governing board members failed to properly protect and control district monies entrusted to them by taxpayers. Specifically, they did not implement adequate controls over disbursement procedures, review bank statements, or enforce their conflict-of-interest policy.

6 Comments

  1. Follow the money, who were the other businesses. Who benifited? Pugal? CH2M? All mormons. Sorry, Mormons are involved as always, esp up here.

  2. Disgusting and disappointing that someone could do this to the people in a small community like Pine and Strawberry! I was disheartened to hear this from my sister in Prescott last night but knew in my heart who had done this! I never felt good about Becky being in charge of the books. Sorry, Dianne Mitchell, you didn’t know any of this. I am a retired Realtor from Sunny Mountain – 2000 – 2013

  3. Hillary Rodham Clinton:

    “As a woman, she should hire
    me as her attorney. I’ll get her
    off by claiming the $800K is
    merely misplaced Petty Cash.”

  4. Peanuts compared to the illegal GIFT to World View, as decided by the Court, by Pima County Administrator Huckleberry and his four stooges, at the time Supervisors Carroll, Bronson, Elias and Valadez.

  5. In addition to the theft, this only proves the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District is over taxing the district since they can afford to misplace a cool $800k without noticing it…

    The Oracle

    • The Oracle of Tucson should read the report more carefully as only $540k were taken form the District. While this amount is still large, the individual took extreme efforts to hide her misconduct in such a manor that the annual Auditing firm could not find those issues until report to them by the district. Additionally, the majority of these funds were taken while the individual was working for the management company under contract to the District.

      It is easy to make conclusions based on incomplete information.

      The following is a press released issued by the district that contain additional information:

      Pine, AZ, October 26, 2017: The Arizona Auditors General (AZAG) on Thursday October 26, 2017 has issued a report of their findings related to their investigation of Ms. Rebecca Sigeti, a former Employee/Contract employee of the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID) into alleged Theft and Misuse of Public Funds. A copy of the full report is available at:
      https://www.azauditor.gov/sites/default/files/17-405_Report.PDF
      The AZAG has concluded that Ms. Sigeti while she was an Accounting Manager for the PSWID and an accountant for a local Private Business (Sunny Mountain Realty, LLC) had allegedly embezzled a total of $841,056 from her employers listed above ($524,686 from PSWID and $316,370 from Sunny Mountain). As a result, the Arizona Attorney General has taken criminal action against Ms. Sigeti resulting in her indictment on 40 felony counts.
      From August of 2010 through January 2016, Ms. Sigeti has allegedly violated state laws related to theft, misuse of public monies, fraudulent schemes, computer tampering, money laundering, and forgery when she issued 32 district checks and warrants with forged signatures totaling $524,686 to herself and three businesses for which she managed the bank accounts. Ms. Sigeti also falsified PSWID records to help conceal and deleting entries in the PSWID accounting software program and in bank Account reconciliations.

      Ms. Sigeti had been employed by the District in various capacities from October 2009 through April 2016. During this period Ms. Sigeti had performed accounting services to the District as either an employee of other management firms under contract with the PSWID or directly as employee of the District. A more comprehensive record of her employment is as follows:
      • October 2009: Ms. Segiti starts providing accounting services to PSWID as a part of HDJ Management’s work with the district.
      • March 3, 2010: Ms. Segeti begins providing accounting services to PSWID as a contract accountant.
      • July 12, 2010: Ms. Segiti becomes a FT PSWID employee.
      • December 1, 2010: Ms. Segeti becomes a CH2M employee providing accounting services.
      • June 1, 2015: As part of Contract negotiations with CH2M, Ms. Sigeti becomes a FT PSWID employee serving as Accounting Manager.
      • April 12, 2016: Resigns as PSWID employee.

      The PSWID had already found $89,601.32 in forged checks dating from October 09, 2015 through January 19, 2016 and reported their finding independently to the AZAG office and has recovered those funds from its insurance company. Additionally, The PSWID has informed the firm CH2M of this report as CH2M is liable for any wrong doing of individuals employed by them during their term of the contract. So for monies totaling $429,393.76 taken from December 1, 2010 through May 31, of 2015 PSWID will be coordinating with CH2M to recover for those damages. The District will review its insurance coverage or options to collect for any losses totaling $13,090.65 that occurred between August 23, 2010 and December 1, 2010.

      During this entire period, The PSWID had undergone annual independent Audits which had failed to note any of these improper actions. The auditing company did not discover any wrong doing until after the PSWID had reported some of its finding and the AZAG investigation to the auditors. As such, the PSWID had elected to hire a new auditing firm. Additionally, the PSWID had started effective January 2016 to provide its Board members and the public copies of the check register of all checks issued monthly. Additionally, the PSWID has hired an independent auditing firm to look into its practices and has implemented processes based on recommendations received including but not limited to assigning financial review responsibilities to various individual to allow for a comprehensive system of checks and balances.

      The PSWID wants to assure the Public that they are disappointed in the actions of Ms. Sigeti and will continue to work with the office of AZ Attorney General to ensure that Ms Sigeti answers for her actions and to recover any loses it had realized. Additionally, while the District has taken several steps to ensure this type of misconduct does not occur in the future, we will continue to evaluate our policies and procedures as necessary.

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