Charge large: Registrar Iachetta’s city credit card revoked twice

| October 17, 2014 | 7 Comments

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In addition to the six felony charges currently facing Charlottesville City General Registrar, Sheri Iachetta, the Schilling Show has learned that the Registrar has a previously undisclosed history of protocol violation and fiscal impropriety with taxpayer funds.

According to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, the embattled overseer of Charlottesville elections has twice lost her city-issued departmental and personal credit card privileges.

The first revocation was in December of 2008 for “failure to turn in required receipts.”

Bernard Wray, Charlottesville’s Finance Director sent the following memo detailing anomalies in Iachetta’s credit card usage and lack of appurtenant documentation:

TO:               Sheri Iachetta, Registrar
FROM:           Bernard Wray, Director of Finance
DATE:           December 05, 2008
SUBJECT:      City Credit Cards

An audit of your credit card payments indicated that proper receipts are not being turned in with your payment request. Here are just a few examples that show the number of missing original receipts.

iachetta-Expenses-crop

Due to a history of not producing proper receipts I have no alternative but to cancel your City issued credit cards effective December 12, 2008.

CC:      Aubrey Watts, CFO/COO
Gary O’Connell, City Manager

A December 12, 2008 follow-up email to Ms. Iachetta confirmed the city’s decision to recall her city-issued credit cards:

From: Wray, Bernard
Sent: Friday, December 12, 2008 2:42 PM
To: Iachetta, Sheri
Subject: city credit cards

Sheri, per our discussion today we will deactivate your departmental and personal city issued cards next Friday. Please do not use them after 4pm Thursday December 18,2008. This should give you sufficient time to change your automatic payments for precinct phones. Please return the cards to Linda Harding by 4pm Thursday thanks

Registrar Iachetta, in a Feb. 2, 2012 email to Charlottesville Comptroller, Michael Heny, requested credit card reinstatement in order to “secure” a room reservation for a newly appointed electoral board member:

From: Iachetta, Sheri
Sent: Thursday, February 02, 2012 11:35 AM
To: Heny, Michael
Subject: Question

Mike:

The Electoral Board Association has moved their annual meeting due to the Presidential Primary in March. Our new Board member needs to go and the locality is supposed to send him per Va. Code. We haven’t had a new Board member in 5 years. My Board Chair has asked me to make his arrangements and I need a credit card to secure his room reservation.

Is there a way for me to do this?

I also have been appointed to the Election Center’s National Legislative Committee and need to go to the meeting this summer — I represent the mid-Atlantic regions. Is there a way for our office to have a credit card just for travel since I now have someone in charge of our daily SAP stuff?

Heny authorized Iachetta’s requested card but only under strictly defined conditions:

From: Heny, Michael
Sent: Thursday, February 02, 2012 12:16 PM
To: Iachetta, Sheri
Cc: Wray, Bernard; Spencer, Kelly; Heny, Michael
Subject: RE: Question

Sheri:

I will issue a card to your office for travel and related expenses only. The credit card limit will be $5000.00. Make sure all detailed receipts are collected and submitted with the payment package. Detail receipts include airline tickets, hotel statements, receipts for meals (included the signed credit card slip plus the detail of the meal) and for in room meal service a detailed receipt of the meal is required also. For the meal receipts note on the back of the receipt the purpose of the meal and the name(s) of the traveler. If no receipt is given, ask for one.

Please review the attached City’s credit card use policy and make sure any of your staff members who may use the card are familiar with the policy also.

We’ll order the card today and it takes 7–10 days for it to arrive.

Subsequently, Iachetta experienced credit card troubles again in early 2013:

From: Heny, Michael
Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 9:28 AM
To: Iachetta, Sheri
Cc: Heny, Michael
Subject: FW: Question

Sheri:

When your credit card was reinstated back in February 2012 I sent you the City’s Credit Card use policy and I asked you to make all of your staff members familiar with the policy. It has been brought to my attention that 4 personal charges appeared on your credit card bill for the period ending 3/5/2013. Although reimbursement was made back to the City, using the City card for purchases for other than Official Use is considered misuse of the Card. See Sections 3a, section 7, and section 9.

Please provide an explanation for the reason for these transactions.

The Registrar responded promptly:

From: Iachetta, Sheri
Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 10:11 AM
To: Heny, Michael
Subject: RE:Question

Mike:

We tried to get all the flights online but were unable to get 4 seats together on the same flight. We have always used Covington Travel in the past and as travel agents, they were able to get seats together but needed 1 credit card to put it on so I told them to go ahead and do it knowing full and well that we would reimburse immediately.

If there is a next time, I will do everything online and not go through an agent so I can use a number of different payments.

Finding Iachetta’s response inadequate, Heny, for the second time revoked Registrar Iachetta’s city-issued credit card and associated privileges:

From: Heny, Michael
Sent: Thursday, March 21, 2013 2:41 PM
To: Iachetta, Sheri
Cc: Wray, Bernard; Watts, Aubrey; Heny, Michael
Subject: registrar credit card

Sheri:

I referred this matter to Bernard and Aubrey for further resolution and the decision has been made to revoke your credit card. This is to inform you that your card will be canceled immediately.

Sheri Iachetta faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted of the misuse of public funds and assets charges levied by Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Anthony Martin—named as special prosecutor in the case. Iachetta allegedly had mis-used city funds for years to pay cell phone service charges for her husband, Pat Owen, who was not then employed by the Registrar’s office. Former Charlottesville Electoral Board member, Stephanie Commander, also allegedly received “free” cell phone service for years after leaving her board position—courtesy of taxpayers and by Iachetta’s explicit monthly approval.

Despite public outcry and intense media scrutiny, the Charlottesville Electoral Board (Jim Nix-D, Rick Sincere-R, and Joan Schatzman-D) have refused to remove or furlough Registrar Iachetta, citing concerns over the proximity of the November election. Astoundingly, Nix has expressed regret that Charlottesville’s cellphone-gate scandal was even made public.

Meanwhile, Iachetta — under a dark cloud of felony suspicion — continues to represent the Registrar’s office at public events.

While Nix characterizes Iachetta’s job performance as “outstanding,” the public is not assuaged. The Charlottesville Registrar’s past and present violations undermine the integrity of her office and are an affront to the general electorate and to taxpayers. Charlottesville voters, the Registrar’s office, and the electoral system deserve better.

About the Author:

Rob Schilling is founder of The Schilling Show Blog and News; host of WINA's The Schilling Show, heard weekdays from noon to 2 PM; husband; father; and community watchdog.
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7 Comments on "Charge large: Registrar Iachetta’s city credit card revoked twice"

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  1. Rob Schilling says:

    Cell phones weren't the only problem for City Registrar, Sheri Iachetta. Her city-issued credit cards were revoked twice for misuse. Exclusive: http://www.schillingshow.com/2014/10/17/charge-large-registrar-iachettas-city-credit-card-revoked-twice/

  2. Carole Thorpe says:

    Great investigative work as usual, Rob! Who's minding the store in the City of Charlottesville?

  3. Ken says:

    If the Electoral Board feels Iachetta shouldn’t be replaced so close to the election, there is an obvious question they should be asked right after it’s certified – why not now?

  4. Rand Cadmus says:

    ..because now they have leverage over her and she’ll do whatever they ask.

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