The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 6, 2013

Questionable charges on NODA credit card

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — A credit card belonging to the Northern Oklahoma Development Authority was used to make purchases over the past year at a livestock supply store, a sports memorabilia website and other vendors that have little or nothing to do with the agency’s mission, according to NODA records.

Those were among nearly $25,000 in questionable purchases made while Jay States, a registered CPA and former accountant for NODA, acted as executive director in 2012 and 2013.

In late March, the agency’s attorney asked States to resign.



No dealings

During the 13 months that States led the organization, a card assigned to him was used to buy several items from businesses NODA has no dealings with, the agency said in response to an Enid News & Eagle investigation of purchases made on behalf of NODA.

Nearly $544 worth of supplies were purchased from Supreme Show Supply, according to records kept by the agency. NODA confirmed that they have no business dealings with the business, which is a livestock show supplier out of Thomas.

Another charge on the account listed a $183.83 payment to “Foster Smith Mail Order,” which appears to be a merchant name assigned to the online veterinary supplies store Drs. Foster and Smith.

States is affiliated with Rockin’ S Lambs, which sells show lambs. Those wanting to buy an animal from Rockin’ S are directed to contact States, according to its website.



Funds reimbursed

A transaction list for the NODA credit card assigned to States showed three separate purchases from StovesDirect.com, which offers stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, grills and furnaces.

Purchases made from StovesDirect.com totaled $547.13, records show.

Other charges that NODA claims no liability for include $400 to a sports memorabilia outlet, more than $500 to Redneck Trailer Supplies and $481.75 to Tejas Smokers, a Texas firm that supplies smokers and grilling equipment.

Then, on two occasions in September 2012, the card was used to pay $369 to debt collection agencies, according to the credit statement, and $150 was spent on what appears to be a teacher certification exam.

In all, States reimbursed $24,718.73 for charges the agency had questions about, NODA attorney Bryce Kennedy confirmed. NODA considers States to be “paid in full,” Kennedy said in an email.

States’ attorney, Doug Jackson, said Friday that most of the “questionable” charges were probably legitimate office-related purchases.

“There were probably, maybe 20 percent of them that he shouldn’t have done,” Jackson said.

States paid NODA back for anything they had doubts about, he added.

“I don’t think there’s one single thing they had a question on that he didn’t cover. And he’s told me that some of those were clearly company business, but he just wanted to get it behind him,” said Jackson. “As far as he’s concerned, this is a chapter of his life that’s over with and he’s moving on.”



Hasty resignation

In a special meeting on March 25, just three days before NODA was scheduled to meet for its regular monthly session, the agency accepted States’ resignation. According to the minutes taken during the special meeting, President Dea Kretchmar told the board that Kennedy had asked States to resign.

Before the meeting began, States emailed Kennedy a brief, one-sentence statement declaring his immediate resignation.

NODA has declined to comment on the issue, aside from providing documentation in accordance with public records laws. It also appears the agency has taken no steps to pursue legal action against States.

“NODA is prepared to furnish its financial records pursuant to the Oklahoma Open Record Act to any investigatory body desiring to receive and review the same and provide testimony as may be requested,” Kennedy said in a written statement Friday. “Further comment is not appropriate at this time, as this involves a personnel matter.”



States’ history

Neither his resignation email nor the meeting minutes from March 25 disclosed the reason States resigned. He had served the agency for almost 12 years, starting in 2001 as an accountant.

States was appointed deputy director in 2010 and took over as executive director when former chief Larry Tipps retired in March 2012.

After States’ resignation, the NODA Board of Directors appointed Mareta Woodard as interim executive director.

There have been no audits or inventory checks aside from the routine annual examinations performed every fiscal year, Kennedy said.