Montgomery County Controller Stewart J. Greenleaf announced Friday that an audit of the county’s law library found more than $30,000 in misused funds over several years, during which the law library bookkeeper, Barbara Melnyk, 56, allegedly purchased personal items, including her daughter’s college textbooks and a dorm room refrigerator, with taxpayer funds.
“This bookkeeper, who was entrusted with scarce library funds, stole taxpayer dollars to enrich herself and her family,” Greenleaf said in a press release. “Her selfishness increased the burden on county taxpayers and the cash-strapped county government.”
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman charged Melnyk, of Norristown, with theft, receiving stolen property, criminal conspiracy and related offenses, according to the Times Herald.
Greenleaf said that a combination of “weak oversight and non-existent financial controls” enabled the misappropriation to occurred while the law library was a “component unit” of the county, which received county funding but was overseen by the independent Law Library Committee.
Between 2010 and 2012, the law library was allocated more than $2 million in taxpayer funds.
On January 1, the library became a department of the county, which subjected it to a county audit.
Melynk is currently suspended witout pay pending futher investigation, according to Montgomery County Communications Director Frank Custer, who added that senior staff in the commissioner's office suggested the audit of library funds.
“This was a double-whammy for county residents,” said Greenleaf. “Not only were their hard-earned tax dollars misused, the per se litigants who use the law library were deprived of services the misappropriated money could have funded.”
Greenleaf credited his audit staff, Bernadette W. Vereb, Jason C. Bean and Joy M. Glass with discovering the wrongdoing.
This story will be updated with more information, including specific charges, as it becomes available.
Patch Editor Keith Heffintrayer contributed to this report.