When Andy Woodrick, Honey Creek Resort State Park manager in October of 2011 became suspicious a credit card was being used fraudulently by an employee, he contacted Iowa Department of Natural Resource officials, who requested an investigation from the state auditor.

As a result of a special audit by Auditor of State David A. Vaudt, Kathy Ewing, the former group sales assistant at Honey Creek Resort, was accused of improperly processing billings for group events, such as weddings and conferences and adjusting group bills for her own benefit.

Central Group Management LLC hired Ewing in October 2008 as a front desk clerk in the lodge and in April 2009 she was reassigned to the Sales Department as the group sales assistant. Ewing was suspended on Oct. 20, 2011 as a result of “improper use of Department of Natural Resources’ funds” and was terminated from employment on Oct. 24, 2011 after admitting to improperly posting refunds to her personal bank account and a credit card account she was authorized to use.

According to an interview conducted by the Appanoose County Sheriff’s office, Ewing stated "she accidently applied a refund owed to a group back to her credit card. She had the credit card on her desk when processing the transaction. When she noticed the credit on her statement and  no one noticed the mistake, she figured it was a way to catch up on her bills."

The investigation of the resort's Group Sales System was released Friday and covers the period Oct. 1, 2010 through Oct. 20, 2011. Vaudt's audit identifies 10 alleged improper refund transactions totaling $2,770.16 processed by Ewing between Aug. 23, 2011 and Oct. 17, 2011.

"Of this amount, $1,976.08 was deposited to Ms. Ewing’s personal bank account and $794.08 was used to make payments on her mother’s credit card account which she was authorized to use," states the audit.

Part of Ewing's duties was to prepare, bill and adjust group bills. The audit alleges "she was able to create improper portfolios showing refunds to certain accounts or credit certain portfolios directly to show a refund owed to the group. She also processed the refunds she created by applying them to her personal bank account using her debit card or as a payment on a credit card she was authorized to use. The refunds were described on the improper portfolios as refunded rooms, wrong rates or overcharges."

Vaudt's audit recommends strengthened of internal control and overall operations and improve the segregation of duties, reviewing supporting documentation for refunds issued and establishment of policies regarding use of credit cards.

Appanoose County Attorney Richard Scott says a theft charge has been filed, according to an earlier Associated Press story.

A copy of the report is available for review in the Office of Auditor of State and on the Auditor of State’s web site.

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