A former Garwin city clerk, who is charged with embezzling over $562,000 from the city with a population of 525, pleaded not guilty this week and her trial is set Aug. 10 in Tama County District Court.
Anna Leytham is charged with five counts of first-degree theft and one count of ongoing criminal conduct. According to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Iowa State Auditor's Office, Leytham embezzled $562,089 from 1998 until she resigned April 30, 2014.
Leytham was arrested and charged June 16, after the special investigation by the state was completed. Leytham was responsible for most of the financial transactions of the city, according to the audit. 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, signed and distributed checks for goods and services, calculated payroll amounts, received and reconciled monthly bank statements, and prepared monthly city clerk reports and annual financial reports.
According to the state audit, the “identified” improper or undocumented payments included 235 checks or electronic payments totaling $404,101 for personal credit card accounts. Of the 235 checks, 203 were traced back to Leytham’s accounts. She had several different credit card accounts.
Of the total amount, 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.
Leytham also issued $145,224 payments to herself, the audit showed. She issued 107 checks totaling $68,419 to herself in addition to payroll check. The payroll checks Leytham issued to herself include payment for extra hours worked over the maximum 30 hours per week.
The cost to the city for overtime hours totaled $71,365, which included the city’s share of insurance and retirement contributions, the audit showed.
The audit also showed $6,325 of the improper payments went to Leytham’s husband and to vendors for personal purchases, not for city business.
According to the audit investigation, Leytham told the city she was resigning to take care of an ill family member and left in December 2013. After Leytham left, the new clerk attempted to organize the records and determined a number of records, including monthly bank statements, were missing, so she got copies from the bank.
During her review, she found electronic payments to credit cards but the city didn’t have any cards. She told the newly-elected mayor and after reviewing the records he contacted the county attorney, which led to the audit.
In July 2014, Leytham was interview by the auditor’s office and the Iowa Division of Criminal investigation. She said she used her personal credit cards for city expenses because the city didn’t have a credit card. She explained that sometimes, instead of taking a payroll check, she used city funds to pay her personal credit card bills. She added that the mayor and other city officials knew about this.
Leytham said she may have done that once or twice and “maybe” used $1,500 from the city bank account to pay for personal purchases. She added that the city’s purchases on her credit cards were “at least $10,000 probably less than $50,000.” Investigators talked with former and current city council members who said if Leytham made purchases for the city, the council would have to authorize the reimbursements to her. The officials said they didn’t authorize that practice.
Leytham remains in jail as of Friday. Her bail was at $400,000 after her arrest but last week a judge modified it to allow her to post 10 percent or $40,000 cash only.
However, 6th Judicial District Judge Mitchell Turner put conditions on the bond. If Leytham pays the bail, it will be held by the clerk’s office and applied to any restitution judgment, an amount that if she is convicted, she may be required to pay. If there is no restitution, then it will be returned to her.