GR official arrested

URA administrator allegedly stole FGD funds

The City of Green River's former URA/Main Street Administrator, Jennifer "Jennie" Melvin, was arrested on two counts of alleged theft over $1,000 and is being tried for suspected embezzlement from the Green River Urban Renewal Agency (URA) and Flaming Gorge Days (FGD). 

According to the probable cause affidavit from the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), "a total of $42,942.55 was stolen out of the FGD account by Melvin between June 8, 2022 and May 21, 2023," resulting in the first theft count, and "a total of $34,551.53 was stolen from the URA account by Melvin between January 14, 2021 and May 30, 2023," resulting in the second theft count. 

The affidavit explains that DCI began an investigation into Melvin for suspected embezzlement on June 6, 2023. In May of 2023, Melvin allegedly began to call in sick often and did not respond to emails or phone calls, eventually stopping going to work completely. 

"Due to Melvin's lack of communication with the Wyoming Business Council, the Green River URA was placed on probation," the affidavit states. "FGD had to be canceled because events weren't scheduled by Melvin and the account was empty." 

When Melvin stopped coming to work, her work-related mail was forwarded to other City employees, which included bank statements from the URA and FGD accounts. City Administrator Reed Clevenger "noticed a large amount of suspicious withdrawals and payments being made from the FGD account to the point that the account was overdrawn multiple times," according to the affidavit. 

In 2021 and 2022, recurring payments to several businesses from the FGD account were noted and occurred regularly, which were the primary transactions. 

DCI Special Agent Roy Warren "observed that starting in 2022, there was a very drastic change in the amount of charges to the FGD account." These charges allegedly included withdrawals from local ATMs and charges from supermarkets, gas stations, restaurants, Amazon, rental store companies, and hotels.

The ending balance for the FGD account in December 2021 was $48,391.51, while the ending balance for December 2022 was $4,487.41, according to the affidavit. By May 2023, the account had a balance of -$345.95. 

Both Clevenger and SA Warren noted that several of the charges to the FGD account were ATM withdrawals from Wyoming Downs Off Track Betting in Rock Springs. When SA Warren contacted Wyoming Downs, he "learned Melvin is a regular customer at the establishment." 

Charges on the FGD account were marked as "out of the normal business," and included charges to online companies and subscriptions as well as local businesses, which are listed in the affidavit. The affidavit also notes that Melvin had the only debit card issued for the account. 

Melvin also allegedly moved large amounts of money from the URA account into the FGD account to offset the charges to the FGD account. From January to May 2023, there were debit card transactions that seemed suspicious, many of which were to local businesses. During the same time, checks were made from the URA account to the FGD account which coincided with overdraft fees, according to the affidavit. 

Melvin also allegedly took advantage of the URA's "Downtown Dollars" program. Melvin allegedly wrote some of the checks as "cash" which exceeded normal reimbursement amounts and were designated to go toward a specific business that sells goods Melvin likes. 

Melvin was arrested by the Rock Springs Police Department on July 14 and was released on July 18 after posting the $75,000 surety bond.

Melvin's preliminary hearing before Judge John Prokos in the Circuit Court of the 3rd Judicial District in Sweetwater County was originally scheduled for July 26 but was rescheduled for August 16 at 1 p.m.

 

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