Utility manager wanted on embezzlement charges | SierraSun.com

Utility manager wanted on embezzlement charges

Renee Shadforth
Steven Grimm
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Authorities are searching for former Donner Summit Public Utility District general manager Steven Grimm after he failed to turn himself in on a felony warrant for embezzling government funds – in excess of $300,000 – from the utility district, according to the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.

Grimm, a 54-year-old Norden resident, resigned from the district on April 11, the same day the sheriff’s office began the investigation, according to Tom Skjelstad, interim general manager for the utility district.

Grimm’s resignation came after the utility district’s attorney and board of directors discovered evidence reflecting that Grimm had stolen or embezzled funds from the district, according to reports. The felony complaint includes three counts of embezzling government funds, between 2000 and 2002, and one count of credit card fraud in 2002.

No charges have been brought against Grimm’s wife and district board member, Sandra Harmon, according to Nevada County Deputy District Attorney James Phillips.

The evidence included accounting histories, cancelled checks – some made out to Donner Ski Ranch, where Grimm is part owner and was general manager, for as much as $15,000 – and other banking documents, the report said.

“Monies were stolen by way of Grimm obtaining blank checks well out of sequence so they wouldn’t be noticed,” the report continued.

The bulk of the funds in question were handwritten checks to the ski resort and “Donner Spitz Inn.” Initially Grimm told investigators the checks were given to the businesses for services provided to the district, according to the police report.

Other checks were allegedly used to purchase items at Comp USA, Best Buy, Costco and one check to a bike shop in Fairfield, Calif., for $4,500. After investigators obtained itemization reports, they determined none of the equipment purchased could be found in the utility district.

Grimm is also being investigated on allegations of forgery.

“Grimm admitted to forging signatures of Julie Davies, [utility district] board vice president, without her knowledge or approval,” according to the report.

Early this year, the Donner Summit Public Utility District Board held a special meeting, where the board questioned Grimm as to irregularities and non-payment issues.

After the meeting, Grimm was allowed to continue working at the district with supervision and no check-writing abilities, said utility district attorney Geoffrey Evers.

After conducting an internal audit, Evers contacted authorities on April 11.

Investigators had been in contact with Grimm’s attorney, who had made arrangements for Grimm to turn himself in. Grimm, whose bail has been set at $20,000, failed to show and is aware that law enforcement is looking for him, said officials at the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.

Attempts by the Sierra Sun to contact Grimm were unanswered.

The sheriff’s office is asking people with information related to Grimm’s whereabouts to call 265-1471.