Green River Star -

By David Martin
Publisher 

Granger mayor charged with theft

 

November 11, 2020



The mayor of Granger is facing allegations he used municipal funds for personal use, which include purchasing a furnace part for a rental home he owns in New York state.

Bradly McCollum, 55, was arrested and charged last week with felony theft and misdemeanor wrongful appropriation of public property.

The felony charge carries a potential sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $10,000 while the misdemeanor carries a possible sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

McCollum made his initial appearance before Circuit Court Judge Craig Jones Friday afternoon and was released from the Sweetwater County Detention Center after posting bail.

According to court documents, the investigation into McCollum’s activities started Nov. 8, 2019 when Sharon Sloan, the former clerk and treasurer for the town had contacted Detective Matthew Wharton of the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office.

Sloan said she resigned from her position due to issues with the town’s accounts and voiced concerns McCollum was misusing the town’s bank card.

On Nov. 14, 2019, Sloan was interviewed by detectives and alleged the current town council of “total hypocrisy” when members spoke badly about the previous council’s activities when the current council was doing the same thing.

She said she helped McCollum investigate the previous council’s, but said it didn’t sit well with her when he started doing the same thing. She described her relationship with McCollumn as vasy close, saying the two had been best friends since meeting in 2015.

After he won his election to be the town’s mayor in 2018, Sloan said McCollumn approached her about being the town’s clerk and treasurer and was appointed Jan. 24, 2019. While serving as treasurer, she said she would loan McCollum and his wife Christine McCollum money as the two had financial troubles. She would go as far as saying she would cut them a break on their water bill, paying $20 of the outstanding bill the McCollums owed. This went as far as McCollum asking Sloan not to mail his water bill because he didn’t want the town’s post master seeing how far behind he was in his payments.

She said this relationship started to deteriorate later in 2019 after McCollum’s wife returned from a trip to New York State. She said McCollum’s wife had driven to New York to evict renters at their property and had gotten a flat tire while driving through Nebraska.In September Sloan reviewed the town’s bank transactions and discovered two transactions to a tire shop in Nebraska totaling approximately $500, saying she was disappointed as there was no reason the town should have spent money at the tire shop. Sloan released a series of text messages to investigators between her and McCollum detailing when McCollum’s wife was dealing with the flat tire and McCollum’s personal bank card failing during the transaction.

Sloan resigned fro her position Oct. 25, 2019 and while writing instructions for the next clerk and finishing her resignation letter to the town council, she noticed a transaction from the town’s bank card in Manila, Utah.

She claimed the only person who went to the town was McCollum, who traveled there for his job with the Wyoming Department of Transportation. She told investigators she assumed the reason was because WYDOT would reimburse purchases at the end of the month with McCollum’s payroll and he didn’t have money at the time of the purchase.

On Dec. 4, 2019, Wharton applied for a search and seizure warrant for financial records involving the town form State Bank in Green River, receiving the documents a few days later. While reviewing the records, he found two purchases for a Farmers Cooperative Tire Center in Milford, Neb., totaling $485.38 and $348.48 respectively. He also found a charge to the Mustang Travel Center in Manila, Utah for $30.05.

In March, detectives received copies of invoices from Farmers Cooperative Tire Center with the purchase made to a Visa card with a number matching the town’s bank card paying the $485.38 amount and observed the words “over phone” listed on the signature line of the receipt. The invoice stated four Mastercraft Courser tires were purchased in the transaction.

On March 12, investigators conducted a search warrant at the Granger Town Hall and interviewed Teal Romango, the town’s clerk. She said she had an idea why the sheriff’s office was investigating McCollum, saying she knew of the tire purchase, but said it had happened prior to her being hired by the town. She said she had approached McCollum with the original invoice from the tire shop and was told McCollum’s wife was traveling through Nebraska and had blown a tire, saying he admitted to using the town’s bank card because he didn’t have money at the time. Romango said he told her he would pay the town back for the tires but didn’t have money available at the time and offered to either have the amount deducted from his mayoral paycheck of added to his water bill. Romango said she decided to put the amount on the water bill because she didn’t want to deal with deducting his town paycheck. She said she provides the McCollums the water bill each month and are aware the tires were part of the balance.

According to court documents, another purchase for a furnace part was allegedly made using the town’s bank card in early 2020. The McCollums own a rental property in New York State, with documents stating Christine McCollum’s now daughter lives at the property. McCollum allegedly provided Romango the invoice for the part, but it hadn’t yet been placed on the McCollums’ water bill when investigators interviewed her. The amount was for $454.27. Court documents state McCollum emailed the invoice to investigators, which was linked to an HVAC supply store in West Seneca, N.Y. On March 23, Wharton received bank records from State Bank indicating transaction of $454.27 in West Seneca, N.Y.

Investigators also took the town’s debit cards from the McCollums. While Bradly had the town’s bank card, Christine had the volunteer fire department’s card. While retrieving the card from Christine, detectives noticed a white Ford box van at the McCollum residence. The van had Mastercraft Courser tires matching those listed on the invoice from Farmers Cooperative Tire Center.

Speaking to Bradly, investigators asked about the furnace purchase and he said Sloan had told him he had a $1,000 in emergency funding from the town to use and said state statutes indicated he could use municipal funds for personal use, but wasn’t aware exactly of which statutes. Sloan later said she never told him he had an emergency fund in the municipal budget and was unaware of a statute or town ordinance that allowed him to use $1,000 of municipal funding.

During a later interview with Bradly, he questioned investigators about how long the investigation would take, later saying “why would he want to put forth anymore effort trying to get this town back on square one if he;s going to wind up losing his seat.”

On March 30, Romango emailed Wharton claiming McCollum had paid back the remaining amount he spent in town funds, totaling $1,031.86.

According to court documents, the total amount McCollum had spent on personal items was $1,318.18.

 

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