Parker Town Manager accused, Town lawyer responds

Our latest information on this original story is included in our ‘Fact Check’ article HERE.

A Town of Parker employee accused the Town Manager of buying almost $49,000 in gift cards on town credit cards and keeping no records of where they went.

Corina Crispin, who is a specialist in the town’s Finance Department, made the accusations in a letter addressed to the Arizona Attorney General and the Parker Chief of Police, with copies going to the Mayor, members of the Parker Town Council, the Board of Supervisors and the media.

In the letter, mailed on Friday, she said she is reporting what she believes to be matters of public concern, but Wedemeyer’s response – via the Town’s attorney – denied any wrongdoing and says Crispin is being investigated for misconduct herself.

“Please consider this letter both a whistleblowing disclosure pursuant to A.R.S 38-532, and a disclosure pursuant to A.R.S 23-1501(c)(ii),” Crispin wrote.

Crispin alleged that Town Manager Lori Wedemeyer used Town of Parker credit cards to purchase $48,900 worth of gift cards, took possession of the gift cards and then kept no records about how the cards were used or who received them.

“The Town paid the credit card charges for the gift cards and Wedemeyer took possession of the gift cards,” Crispin’s letter said. “I do not believe this expenditure was authorized by the Town Council or that it was even aware of the expenditure. It is unclear where the gift cards went or how Wedemeyer used the gift cards. Wedemeyer kept no records of who (if anyone) received the gift cards.”

According to Crispin’s letter, accountants doing their annual audit of the Town’s books discovered the purchases and could find no record of how the gift cards were used. The auditors therefore directed the Town to treat the $48,900 as additional compensation to Wedemeyer, bringing the total value of her compensation to $217,484.95 for the year ending 2017, according to Crispin, “which appears excessive for a town with a population of only 3,026.”

“I do not believe the Town authorized Wedemeyer to receive an additional $48,900 in compensation,” Crispin said, adding that Wedemeyer “subsequently terminated the auditors’ contract.”

In addition, Crispin said Wedemeyer’s $11,000 tax liability on the gift cards as income was later paid by the Town in a separate payment. She also mentioned one recipient, La Paz County Economic Development Corporation Director Skip Becker, who Crispin says was given $2,500 as a “Christmas Bonus” despite not being a Town of Parker employee.

After obtaining a copy of Crispin’s letter over the weekend, Parker Live reached out to Wedemeyer for comment and received the following reply from Justin Pierce, an Mesa, AZ attorney for the Town of Parker:

“The Town of Parker denies the allegations made by Ms. Crispin,” Pierce said. “What’s more, and disappointingly, Ms. Crispin knows that her allegations are false.”

The response went on to accuse Crispin of misconduct, and to imply that her only reason for blowing the whistle now is because she is under investigation herself. “Her allegations are a gross misrepresentation of the truth and the timing of her letter could not be more suspect,” the statement said.

Pierce said that Crispin has “‘blown the whistle’ on nothing at all,” adding that the issues associated with the gift cards were addressed in a public meeting in February and that the issue was resolved with the Attorney General’s Office.

“Now, many months after the resolution of this issue, it is clear that Ms. Crispin has acted solely to try and protect herself from the notices she received that she is under investigation for misconduct and that her separation was imminent for job abandonment,” the statement said. “These false allegations may subject her to a civil penalty of up to $25,000 (See A.R.S. §38-532(M)). That statutory provision was enacted specifically to protect an employer like the Town of Parker against an employee using the “whistleblower” laws as a shield against her own misconduct. The Town will request that the Attorney General’s Office utilize that statutory provision to send a message that such use of the ‘whistleblower’ laws is inappropriate.”

Town Council members Randy Hartless and Vivian Hartless said they were aware of Crispin’s allegations about Wedemeyer, and told Parker Live that, as members of the council, they felt they had been “uninformed” about some of the issues involved:

“Some council members may have been kept in the dark regarding specific events Crispin refers to,” they said. “Despite the town’s assurances that everything is fine, as members of the council, we feel that we’ve been uninformed about some of Crispin’s allegations until her statement was released. Although we have been advised that the allegations are unfounded, it is our intention to see them effectively addressed, and the response offered from ‘the Town’ does not necessarily represent my opinion nor the opinion of councilperson Vivian Hartless.”

78 comments

  1. Matthew Lentz

    Open the books. Let’s see where the 50k in gift cards went, who purchased and who approves the purchase of the cards. If that cannot happen then she is stealing and is guilty. Pretty simple. Numbers don’t lie and if in this day and age 50k has gone unaccounted for, someone is trying very hard to cover it up.

  2. Shane Halajian

    Just fire everyone and start over as 90% of the town and county employees are corrupt in one fashion or another.

    The problem is, the town is so small that everyone knows everyone and most will cover up the actions of someone they’ve known along time.

    Even hiring an ‘outsider’ doesn’t effect anything because they are drivin from office in a matter of months

    The town is pathetic!!!

  3. Renée Maas

    An audit was done, charges were filed and allegedly dropped. This town manager is an overpaid crook that deserves being exposed and jail time!!!

  4. Matthew Lentz

    Renée Maas how and why did they drop charges?

  5. Matthew Lentz

    This sounds very similar to a case that I got a fire dept chief and fd engine boss fired. It was an uphill battle and I had to go to court to defend myself against false allegations, but I’m still alive and they both are out of a job. It wasn’t easy and never is when you’re dealing with government agencies that have every judge or enforcement agency on their side in order to not make them look bad. Oh and the newspaper is the biggest spin campaign ever when it comes to exposing the truth.

  6. Renée Maas

    I cannot fathom why the charges were dropped. I thought for sure after the investigation happened she’d be fired and jailed!!!

  7. Renée Maas

    These “sour grapes” Are referring to a 13 year town employee with an exemplary service record who shows up for work every day. That’s a LOT more than can be said for the absentee town manager who has never worked a full week since she started. Hardly comparable to the thievery done by the town “manager”. Who, by the way, put her daughter in the chair while this employee has been away. Ethic much?

  8. Danielle Cantrell

    Life takes a funny turn. Karma.

  9. Marco Barrett

    All that went in hers and the lawyers bank account

  10. Matthew Lentz

    Renée Maas the fire chief was more of a forced resignation. I just forced the hand. The engine boss was investigated then fired for many issues. The chief accommodated and knew about these issues so he was allowed to resign or be fired. Either way the corruption is gone. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see a resignation from some folks in Parker. We shall see

  11. Katie Parsons

    Karmas a terrible thing. My mom loves the town and all the people she’s built amazing relationships with, she’s worked there for over 13 years. I just truly hope they make the right decision and Lori is held responsible for her actions.

  12. Lillian Stulce

    An audit of this is not a hard feat to accomplish – updated to add that I am an auditor

  13. Destiny Nickole

    FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation

  14. Lillian – make some calls, audit them. Having been an internal auditor before I don’t understand how something at this level could have been “overlooked.” There is definitely something to be found. Corina has worked for this town too hard and too long to not know what is right.

    Also, an over 200k salary when there are so many areas of growth and development that need attention and that sort of funding.

  15. Byron Mcmahon

    Shit, how can i get on the committee that’s in charge of loosing gift cards? I got racecars to build.

  16. How easy would it be for there to be transparency if nothing is wrong . Smells like the same old bullshit, make sure she isn’t re-elected if you can’t expose this. The people deserve better its their money.

  17. Mona Reyna Duran

    With all that being said I’m curious as to why Skip Becker received any monies or gift cards period! (1) he’s not a town employee and (2) it’s his JOB to work with the TOP to supposedly bring more businesses/jobs to Parker/LaPaz. I’m not pointing any fingers but this is all the more reason why I feel there should be a town council term limits so such happenings like this can be avoided. Its ashame whether this accusation is true or false. For the town to even be called out on such an accusation is embarrassing 🙄

  18. Katie Parsons

    It’s embarrassing that the town would even let this go on for so long. I’m just wondering where the 49,000 dollars went too, my moms kept her mouth shut for way to long and I’m so damn proud of her for not cowering down and talking about this issue and making things right!

  19. Lori Leitzke Lusk

    There aren’t any people in Parker that would stick up for me but I would never run for anything in this town because you don’t even know all the facts and you immediately accuse them. If they go to trial and are found guilty then and only then can you accuse them. At least I think I’m still in America…btw I don’t know either party I just hate rushing to judgements.

  20. Mona Reyna Duran

    I agree but article does say accusations! Other than that its human nature for ppl to cast judgement by the little info. given. Parker is a very small town and ppl will and can be judgemental because everyone knows everyone in one way or another.

  21. Chris Witham

    That’s a bit more than $16.00 for every resident of Parker. Guess they lost mine in the mail?

  22. So who signs the checks for payments on acounts payable?

  23. Nathaniel Cooper

    It is pretty easy to simply look up the numbers and get receipts right? If they are just accusations, get the evidence. If it false, she gets an apology. If it is true, then, it seems like the town needs to make some changes happen, because it couldn’t happen just from one person.

  24. John Wright

    Hey Nathaniel- It could be that there were gift cards bought for good reasons, but that there were no records kept of where they went.

  25. Renée Maas

    1) town manager shouldn’t be authorizing these (hundreds of dollars) types of purchases
    2) these types of purchases SHOULD be heavily recorded by accounting
    3) we are talking about amounts in the thousands and those amounts need to be approved by the board. These weren’t even brought to the board, let alone approved by them.

  26. Renée Maas

    Just show receipts. That’s all anyone should ask for. Who got the gift cards and what were they for??? This is tax payers money and they have a right to know. That’s why there’s a town board-for checks and balances.

  27. Katie Parsons

    Good reasons John? 😂😂 I don’t know you personally but you can’t be that ignorant to think that 49,000 dollars is for “good reasons” and it’s just a coincidence that they have “no records” of anything. The town managers a liar and a crook, karma finally just caught up to her.

  28. B.j. Madewell

    Can the town give “gifts” to people? Is it not considered public funds or tax $$$?

  29. So if a gift card is bought from a credit card from the town. There is record of where they came from.
    However, where did they go? And if this lady Crispen is under investigation why? There is more to this then what is being said. Why is the town manager hiding behind a Lawyer? Why can’t she explain this herself? To many questions to jump to conclusions.

  30. Aren’t all records public?

  31. I believe the Town buys gift cards for gifts for employees from time to time. I also know that some departments receive donations for events that end up often going into gift card form.

    You have to consider your source and the motivation for Whistleblowing. If one is being investigated oneself it looks a wee bit suspect.

    Justin Pierce is a very thorough and cautious attorney and Ms. Wedemeyer has done the right thing a time or two in the recent past so I’m gonna have to say there was a good reason for the gift cards. Also, she’s been ill so, on light duty so yeah, she may have had some sick time in the recent past also, people.

  32. Lyn Hall

    Well I think we need to hear what the other side has to say… the smoke will clear a little more…once we hear who authorized the purchases and who they were given to… is there not a paper trail..??

  33. Meghan Romanek

    Okay well if they were bought on a credit card where were they bought from? This is conflicting in so many ways. At least everything I have to say or ask is at least. I don’t know any part of the parties but I am a tax payer. So why is Crispen under investigation? And where did the gift cards go? Why is one hiding behind a lawyer and why is this the first time that is brought to the taxpayers attention? Why did the town pay for it? And shouldn’t every town member that has a credit card be accountable for showing records of where the money went and to who it was given to? There is way too much evasiveness to jump to any conclusions yet. But we as the taxpayers want to know. Where did the gift cards go? And why did someone not even a town employee get a $2,500 bonus? Sometimes people need to explain stuff themselves instead of hiding behind a lawyer. And why a possible revenge letter was sent out. I am not saying anyone is wrong just give us answers!

  34. Meghan Romanek

    Katie Parsons why would your mom keep her mouth shut? If She is dedicated to the town as you say?

  35. Nathaniel Cooper

    John Wright I mean, records would be a good thing to keep for the future 😊

  36. Meghan Romanek

    Katie Parsons is this part of the revenge train? We want answers and not from the daughter. I respect the fact that you are sticking up for your mom. However why didn’t she say anything before now? And I don’t want you to answer this. I am a taxpayer and I want her answer.

  37. Meghan Romanek

    Matthew Lentz exactly why did charges get dropped? There is two sides to every story. If they got dropped then why is this even being brought up? So long overdue?

  38. Meghan Romanek

    I laugh every time you comment on something!

  39. Katie Parsons

    No revenge here, I’ve never had an issue with anyone but when I see bullshit I’ll call anyone out on there wrong doings, like I am right now. My mom has never had social media so it would be a little hard for her to respond to this, dontcha think? And if you want to know where your money is going from why don’t you ask the person who’s spent 49k in gift cards and who’s made over 200k a year 🙃

  40. Nathaniel Cooper

    Do we have evidence of this? I really want to know where this evidence is. How would a person that is part of the finance department know this existed if there is no financial record of it. This discrepancy could honestly just come from bad accounting or so. But, i don’t know the full story (even after reading this, something seems fishy)

  41. John Wright

    I’m not on any side here! By ‘good reasons’, I just mean ‘justifiable reasons’. In other words, it could be a case of bad records-keeping rather than ill intent. But this won’t be the last word we’ll publish on this, by any means. Lots of questions remain open.

  42. Meghan Romanek

    John Wright exactly I agree with that. To many questions to jump to a conclusion. I don’t really know either party involved.

  43. Meghan Romanek

    John Wright being a taxpayer I just want answers.

  44. Dan Bury

    There’s too little information for anyone to be this dramatic about.

  45. I usually do not get involved in commenting on things like this, BUT, I just want to say this- 1. I agree totally with Lori Lusk’s comments above… Yes Parker is in America, where everyone is INNOCENT until proven guilty. 2. I am a Town of Parker employee and I received a gift card for my Christmas bonus in a Christmas card signed by the Town Manager, the Mayor, and all the town council members. (Not sure if all town of parker employees got 1 or not). …. And 3. There is certain protocol that has to be followed for different matters when you work in certain positions. I don’t think Laurie is hiding behind a lawyer. I think she is probably following protocol. I do not know for sure though, this is just my own thoughts. However, if I was in her situation I would definitely hide behind someone cause people are just attacking without even having a clue the real story. Everything will come out. … Until then, lets try not to be so harsh and cruel to either party. I’m sure they have enough to deal with right now.

  46. Byron Mcmahon

    Lol, lifes better when you can laugh at it.

    Real talk tho, Town of Parker Arizona bang the line next time you got some money you need to loose. we can call it a “sponsorship”. Ill even give you a ride. 💨💨😍😘😘

  47. Aric M. Stewart, PE - Former Public Works Director

    Facts are always helpful in these situations. Below are facts that I can share. I left the Town of Parker a year ago. I worked there from Nov 2016 to Sept 2017. I reported directly to Wedemeyer, and was released from employment because, as I was told by Wedemeyer, “the Town is taking a different direction”. I was in charge of Parks and Rec, Public Works, Water, Community Development, Cemetery, and Fleet. The employees I supervised were, and still are, an amazing group of people dedicated to serving the public. I proudly served Wedemeyer, the Town Council, and the Parker Community–one of the true highlights of my career as a professional engineer. I worked 40+ hours every week and did my best to serve as a steward of public funds. Wedemeyer served as the finance director, human resources manager and Town manager. During my employment at the Town I noticed that Wedemeyer had an office schedule that very seldom coincided with office hours of 8-5. She rarely showed up until 9 or 10, which was when the Mayor would stop by to conduct Town business. In a standard week Wedemeyer was in the office less than half of the standard office hours. A few months into my employment I started to notice some erratic behavior of Wedemeyer–memory lapses, word slurring, her eyes would close as she spoke in slurs, and she would stare into the distance. As a colleague, I was concerned. I asked other department heads if Wedemeyer’s health was okay, or if this was her normal behavior. The message I got was quite clear–“be careful”. Shortly thereafter I reached the end of my six month probation, but was told by Wedemeyer my probation would be extended (without a reason). Three months later, once I successfully completed the Geronimo St. project, and a few other projects that Wedemeyer directed me to complete, I was relieved of my duty. Did my release have anything to do with me inquiring about her erratic behavior? This I’ll never know. I truly don’t think the Town Council saw what myself and other Town employees saw. All the Council members have other full time jobs where they spend their days serving the community, which would make it difficult to see patterns like I and other Town employees observed. Crispen always worked an honest 8 hours every day, acted professional, and was friendly to people. These are the facts, as I observed. Now it’s up to the authorities to check the books, talk to current and former auditors, and learn all the other facts. Good luck Parker and let me know if you need my assistance getting back on track.

    Best wishes, Aric
    928-848-5321

  48. Lisa Lovell

    $49,000 in gift cards?!? That’s a bit excessive for this little town, to me. I cannot fathom the reason for those purchases in the first place. 🤔
    Hope it all gets figured out.

  49. David Page Sr.

    Let’s watch this get smothered. Lol

  50. Renée Maas

    I’ll answer this ^
    The whistle got blown after the investigation was allegedly dropped. These discrepancies were caught in the audit. There was an investigation. That auditor was relieved of their duties by the town manager so then Crispin stepped in with information and proof. This is going to get investigated again and hopefully this time Wedemeyer will be held accountable for her actions.

  51. Renée Maas

    Sure they can. But should a town manager really be gifting herself thousands of dollars? Me thinks not. Then, because of this discrepancy have said thousands just be tacked on to her already exorbanant pay? As if all that’s not awful enough, the town cut her a check to pay the taxes on the added amount?!?!

  52. Corina Crispin has 13 years of excellent merit reviews from the Town of Parker. She enjoys her job and the customers Corina serves can attest to this. I cannot discuss the details of the allegations against Corina, however I can say they are ridiculous. If anyone is retaliating, it is the town manager, Lori Wedermeyer. Wedemeyer should be placed on administrative leave and an investigation needs to be enforced. I sincerely hope the town Council will do the right thing this time. Sincerely, a former town employee, Karen Goneau

  53. Danielle Cantrell

    The auditors made it part of her compensation……But according to the article, she had federal and state tax liability and the TOP covered that expenditure too. The AZ gift laws that govern public bodies are pretty clear.

    https://www.stateandfed.com/docs/gifts/az_GiftLaw.pdf

  54. Danielle Cantrell

    Meghan Romanek I worked for this woman and she has hacked more job than you can count.

  55. Tracy is right on in her above comment. Wait for the facts, people. Let’s not make this into a Town of Parker grudge fest. If y’all are so unhappy with this Town, there are lots of others to live in. The employees have received gift cards for holidays. So there’s your answer. I was married to one so I’ve seen ‘em with my own two eyes.
    Lori was very kind to me with an issue I had with the Town years back so if you knew her maybe you wouldn’t be so quick to judge something that has an easy explanation. Ask the Whistleblower if she ever received a gift card maybe?

  56. I’m a retired banker. Bank issuer of the cards can produce records-Card #’ copies of receipts, when utilized, who purchased, what was purchased. It isn’t that hard with proper authority and a subpoena should get that done. Don’t know who is right or wrong but the information is not that well hidden, unlike Obama’s academic record, ability to visit Pakistan where US passport was not taken, access to funds for world tour, college records.
    Now that’s information you cannot get your hands on!

  57. hahaha Michael Penn we were just talking tonight at dinner about how those records of Obama are the best kept secrets in America. Didn’t you work at BOA? I still bank there and miss it being here in town.

  58. Mike- College records aren’t hidden, they’re just not public (mine and yours included!). Americans could freely visit Pakistan in 1981 (you included!). In the Town of Parker case, it’s probably not controversial that there were gift cards and that they were issued as bonuses. Some questions remain, but there may be open answers from the Town, we shall see.

  59. Mona Reyna Duran

    Town council executive session today. According to the agenda it’s for discussion of town employee letter submitted. What concerns me they’re not coming out of the executive session and going back into a regular meeting with an action item such as a termination or suspension or disciplinary if any? Sounds really fishy to me.

  60. Lorrie Ann Muriel

    Hopefully people read this and settle down.

  61. Michael Bailey

    People will still believe what they want without know ALL of the information.

  62. Lorrie Ann Muriel

    Michael Bailey I know. She’s a good person. I’ve learned that over the years. She has a good heart and has been through a lot. That’s why this crap is annoying to me.

  63. Meghan Romanek

    Thank you. For helping clear this up. If it’s already been investigated and a case closed then why would it be brought up again? It’s sounds like revenge to me.

  64. Michael Bailey

    Meghan Romanek 🤔🤔🤔

  65. Meghan Romanek

    Michael Bailey right and now a closed meeting.

  66. Parker Live

    Guys- To say that the case is “closed” makes it sound like there are no issues or valid questions whatsoever. As we and the Arizona Republic have documented, there are valid questions remaining. See our ‘Fact Check’ piece: http://www.parkerliveonline.com/2018/09/13/fact-check-town-manager/

  67. I find it interesting that there is no information about this in the minuets of the “public meeting” in Febraurty. It does list “Finace report” so it appears that it was addressed in that report. One would need to review that finance report for the information.

  68. Teresa- I believe the one you’d be looking for is March 20th, 2018 (link), which says:

    “Chad explained the complete Town of Parker FY 2016/2017 Audit along with the Financial Statements, the Independent Auditor’s Report, and the firms Management’s Discussion and Analysis findings which had been sent to the Council prior to this meeting for the Council to review. He noted his, and the firms thanks to the Town’s management staff for all their help with the Audit. The financial highlights were at 8.7 million as the close of the fiscal year. The net position increased by 198 thousand, as did the governmental revenues. Expenses did exceed the revenues in some areas, but overall the Town was doing well with 1.5 million in resources available. Chad stated the Town as a whole is stable and improving. It has been a pleasure working with and for the Town of Parker. Vice Mayor Hooper and the Council thanked Chad and the firm.”

  69. Thanks, John!

  70. Heather Huhtala

    When I first started at the library we worked for Town of Parker. I remember them giving us like a $50 gift card for Basha’s around Thanksgiving.

  71. Paula Hunter

    Mona Reyna Duran took the words out of my mouth.

  72. Paula Hunter

    Folks….all y’all need to look at Skip Becker. I’ve got some interesting stories. Puppet master in your local incestuous goverment.

  73. This all seems much ado about something.

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