CEDAR RAPIDS — A former Garwin city clerk, previously charged in state court, is now charged in federal court with embezzling over $560,000 from the city and will plead guilty Tuesday.
Anna Leytham was charged last week with one count of theft concerning a program receiving federal funds. She faces 10 years in federal prison, a fine based on the gross loss and restitution.
Leytham, who resigned from her clerk’s position April 30, 2014, embezzled at least $70,000 from Garwin, a Tama County community with a population of 525, between January 2001 and October 2013, a plea agreement states. During a one-year period beginning Nov. 1, 2010, the city received benefits of over $10,000 from a Community Development Block Grant and during this time, Leytham stole at least $5,000 of the total amount she embezzled.
The case was initially investigated by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation following a special investigation by the Iowa State Auditor’s Office, which found Leytham embezzled $562,089 from 1998 until she resigned in 2014.
The audit report showed Leytham was responsible for most of the financial transactions of the city. She made the bank deposits, collected and posted the accounting records, made purchases for the city, presented proposed payments to the city council for approval, maintained all financial documentation and signed checks for goods and services. She also calculated payroll amounts, received and reconciled monthly bank statements, and prepared monthly city clerk reports and annual financial reports.
According to the state audit, 203 improper checks or undocumented payments were traced back to Leytham’s accounts. Leytham had several different credit card accounts.
Of the total amount of improper payments from the city, there were over $66,000 in cash advances; over $11,000 from various retail and clothing stores; over $8,000 to bookstores at Marshalltown Community College, Northwest Iowa Community College and Wartburg College; over $5,000 to NutriSystems; over $3,000 for hotels; over $2,200 from restaurants and retail stores in Hawaii during September 2013; over $2,000 for plastic surgery; and over $1,700 for jewelry purchases, the audit report detailed.
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Leytham also issued $145,224 payments to herself, according to the investigation. She gave herself checks totaling $68,419 in addition to payroll checks. And Leytham’s payroll checks included over time hours, which totaled $71,365.
The audit also showed $6,325 went to Leytham’s husband and to vendors for personal purchases, not for city business.
The discrepancies were discovered after Leytham resigned and a new clerk found a number of records, including monthly bank statements, were missing. The new clerk got copies of the statements from the bank, and during her review, she found the payments to credit cards but knew the city didn’t have any cards. She told the newly-elected mayor, who reviewed the records and contacted the county attorney.
In July 2014, Leytham told investigators she used her personal credit cards for city expenses and explained that sometimes, instead of taking a payroll check, she used city funds to pay her personal credit card bills. She claimed the mayor and other city officials knew of this practice, but former and current city council members told investigators they didn’t authorize her actions.