Not many people know what a public official bond is. Public official bonds ensure that individuals serving the public such as tax collectors or judges follow the rules of their county/state. The people of New Albany, IN may soon become fans of public official bonds pending a ruling on a recent case where a public official allegedly mishandled thousands of dollars.
Ronald Quakenbush, a former Floyd County Highway Department superintendent allegedly mismanaged thousands of public funds. Quakenbush supervised the county highway department and its disposal of guard rails, old culverts and other salvageable pieces. The highway department transported metal to various recycling companies that paid for the scrap; the cash and receipts were to be given to Quakenbush to be forwarded to the county auditor. According to the State Board of Accounts (SBoA) audit, Quakenbush never sent $12,526.67 in cash payments from the recyclers. Also, the audit states that some funds received from recyclers were deposited into a bank account that Quakenbush opened up in 2006. Western Surety Company was the surety company who wrote the $15,000 surety bond which was in place for a situation just like this.
“The State Board of Accounts examiners determined that this was not merely a case of bad bookkeeping,” Attorney General Greg Zoeller said. “It is my responsibility to the public to recover these public funds. When those entrusted with responsibility over taxpayers’ money violate that trust, then the attorney general’s office is authorized to take legal action to reimburse the public treasury.”
Since the bond was in place, the county can recover up to $15,000 and possibly more from the surety company depending on the language in the bond and the legitimacy of the accusations. Should the county get reimbursed by Western Surety, they will go to whoever caused the problem in the first place to get paid back. Zoeller is looking to recover $17,745.34 for the county which includes audit and attorney fees.
With the protection of the public official bond in place, Floyd County has the chance to get back their money which otherwise may have been lost forever.