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Archive for Thursday, May 7, 1998

DESOTO CLEARS FIRED DIRECTOR OF FUND MISUSE

May 7, 1998

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— In a prepared statement, the organization called unfounded the allegations of impropriety over an unusual payment scheme.

After dismissing its executive director over about $22,000 in expenses he ran up, the DeSoto Economic Corp. now says the payments were proper.

But the group apparently is not discussing reinstating him to the unpaid post.

In a prepared statement, the corporation board said an accounting of the expense payments to James Beadle during the six months he led the economic development organization found no impropriety.

``The board feels comfortable with the documentation that's been provided,'' Michael Howe, the board's lawyer, said Wednesday.

In the statement, the board said its differences with Beadle were simply an effort to account for the services he provided.

``Those matters have now been resolved to the satisfaction of the Board,'' it said. The board also thanked Beadle for ``the numerous contributions'' he made during the corporation's first year of existence.

Beadle was fired in March at the urging of the DeSoto City Council. Council members were uncomfortable about what they called Beadle's poorly documented expense vouchers.

They asked for a review of his expenses after learning that he had written 31 checks for $499 and had them co-signed by a member of the corporation board. Checks of $500 or more would require approval of the full board.

According to the board's prepared statement, that payment scheme was part of Beadle's arrangement with the board.

``The recent publicity alleging or insinuating misuse of the Economic Development Corporation funds are unfounded and made by individuals unfamiliar with the direction given Mr. Beadle by the Economic Development Board,'' the statement said.

Howe said Beadle was allowed by the board to write checks for $499 in repayment of expenses he incurred doing development work. Beadle, who runs an insurance agency, was not paid for his work, which he carried out using his own office and staff.

The expenses included mileage, copying costs and phone tolls.

Arlen Gabriel, a DeSoto banker who is president of the corporation, called the matter ``a closed book.''

``I think some parties thought there was something there that wasn't there,'' he said.

In an interview last month, Gabriel said he never questioned Beadle's integrity, only his record-keeping. He said Beadle's foes seized upon that and the board's method of payment to suggest dirty dealings. Beadle had been DeSoto's mayor for 12 years.

Beadle could not be reached for comment.

DeSoto, a town of about 2,500 people, is 13 miles east of Lawrence. Its development corporation was financed by three $20,000 payments from Sealright Corp.

-- Richard Brack's phone message number is 832-7194. His e-mail address is rbrack@ljworld.com.

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