Birch Bay water district treasurer arrested for misappropriation of funds

Published on Wed, Feb 23, 2011 by By Jeremy Schwartz

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The Whatcom County Sheriff’s office has arrested Glenn Golay, the treasurer for the Birch Bay Water and Sewer District, on suspicion of illegally transferring district funds to his personal checking and credit card accounts.

Golay was arrested Thursday, February 23 and charged with stealing $87,636 since September 2008, according to the sheriff’s office. District manager Roger Brown said Golay’s alleged theft most likely goes back to 2003.

Brown fired Golay on January 11 after an examination of financial records showed Golay had apparently misappropriated nearly $500,000 in district funds over the last seven years.

Brown said Golay met with him on January 3 and said the state auditor had requested financial records that would show Golay’s misconduct. The state auditor's office was in the midst of a routine audit of the district's finances for 2008 and 2009 at the time. Brown said he was shocked to hear Golay’s admission.

“There was no inkling that something like this might be going on,” Brown said.

Subsequently, the district learned of the initial extent of Golay’s misconduct after an examination of the records by the state auditors. Investigations by the auditor’s office and the county sheriff’s department are ongoing.

The district is insured with the Washington Water and Sewer Risk Management Pool, which provides insurance for losses incurred through employee misconduct or crime for about 60 water and sewer districts in the state, Brown explained. Brown said the loss of funds will not affect any of the district’s customers, since the risk management pool assured him the losses will be covered.

Though the full extent of losses is still being determined, Brown said the current estimate is that approximately $469,000 was taken from 2003 to 2010. The auditors are currently examining the district’s archived statements to determine if any money had been taken prior to 2003.
Brown said former Blaine finance manager Meredith Riley will take over as the district's interim finance director. Riley will perform Golay's duties as financial director in addition to reviewing the district's financial review procedures, Brown said.

Riley is set to work for the district for two years, after which she will be offered the opportunity to stay on long term, Brown added.

Golay had worked with the district since about 1987 and was well respected by his peers. He had been the president of the Washington Finance Officers Association, Brown noted. In 2007, Golay received the association’s professional finance officer award.