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County files suit to collect fines from Treasurer

 

By Michael Howell

On Monday, March 10, the Ravalli County commissioners moved unanimously to file the lawsuit aimed at collecting $29,000 in fines from County Treasurer Valerie Stamey. At a previous meeting on February 18, the commissioners identified in a two-hour long process at least 58 delinquent monthly reports and settlements, required to be produced as part of the Treasurer’s duties. According to statute, the Treasurer forfeits $500 for each late report and “the Board of County Commissioners shall institute the suits necessary to recover those sums.”

Stamey did not attend the March 10 meeting nor did she attend the February 18 meeting. The last commissioners’ meeting that Stamey attended was on January 21, when she was asked by the commissioners to respond to the default judgment against her in a South Carolina court case in which she was accused of cashing the same check twice, once by phone and once by depositing the actual check, and failing to make restitution. Instead, she leveled a list of allegations against a few county commissioners and other county employees.

County Attorney Bill Fulbright enlisted the aid of retired Judge Nels Swandal to conduct an investigation into Stamey’s allegations against other county officials and employees. Swandal’s investigation appears to have wound down but no report has yet been released.

Fulbright also enlisted the aid of the auditing firm Anderson ZurMuehlen. The lead auditor in this case, Jim Woy, issued a preliminary report that stated, “It is apparent the duties of the Ravalli County Treasurer were not properly executed.” Stamey has filed suit against Woy and his company, claiming libel and slander related to his comments in that initial report. No final audit report has been released.

In addition to the commissioners’ decision to file the lawsuit aimed at collecting the $29,000 in fines from Stamey, two other claims were filed against her in Justice Court seeking to collect on other debts.

On Tuesday, March 4, Collection Bureau Services, Inc. filed a claim for $2,185 against Stamey and her husband for unpaid bills to Rocky Mountain Eye Center and Rocky Mountain Surgery. On Wednesday, March 5, CBM Collections filed a claim of $887.23 against Valerie Addis, AKA Valery Stamey, for unpaid debts to Big Sky Eye Care, Missoula Federal Credit Union and Gateway Community Federal Credit Union.

Still pending in Justice Court is a claim filed in April of 2013 in Justice Bailey’s court seeking to collect $312.92 owed to Tammany Veterinary Hospital. A summons was issued in the case but a return of no service was received on May 13, 2013 stating that Valerie Stamey, AKA Addis, could not be located. Then, on January 13, 2014, Justice Jim Bailey recused himself from the case and Justice Robin Clute issued an Alias Summons on the same day. That summons was served on Stamey at a county building on January 22, 2014 and the case is still pending in Clute’s court.

Stamey has never asked the courts in South Carolina or Ravalli County, where she has two default judgments still standing against her, to reconsider her case or presented any evidence in her defense. The default judgment in Ravalli County in favor of Discover Credit Services for $30,000 in credit card debt precedes the default judgment in South Carolina where Stamey was found to have cashed the same check for $18,000 twice and failed to make restitution.

Stamey is currently on paid administrative leave and former Beaverhead County Treasurer Kathy Allard is under contract with the county to catch the treasurer’s office up to speed on all delinquent reports and train the staff. Three of the office’s key personnel resigned under Stamey’s tenure. They all claimed that Stamey was unable or unwilling to perform her duties as treasurer. Stamey claims that she was the one placed into a hostile work environment and her ability to do her job was sabotaged by office personnel, other county employees and even a few commissioners.

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