Since they took over Town Hall on March 8th the Orange Walk Town Council has been conducting a special audit of the town’s finances. What we can tell you tonight is that the findings are proving to be explosive. During the special investigation at least one former employee of the council is signaled for wrongdoing or engaging in irregular practices. Here is part two of our exclusive interview with the Mayor of Orange Walk Town Kevin Bernard.
Kevin Bernard- Mayor Orange Walk Town
“There has been a lot of irregularities and before the administrator left that morning I receive this very lengthy one page report from Mr. Moguel which speaks about embezzlement of funds from one of the former revenue collector by the name of Carl Westby and is I am go into some of the details the administrator stated here that the council opened a file which we are also reviewing for a list of bogus receipts given by Mr. Carl Westby and to date the date which he had submitted that file this sums a total of $16,802.76 now this is a very, very, very huge figure for one individual collector to owe this council, I want to make mention to another issue here that where Mr. Moguel and I quote on this letter and it says “I Mr. Andre Moguel, town administrator for period May 3rd 2009 to March 6th 2012 hereby demand to the relief of any responsibility in relation to the reporting of this matter to the relevant authorities, I made a presentation of my findings and was directed not to disclose any of this information, the Mayor Mr. Phillip De La Fuente took the responsibility to continue with the investigation and to report to the relevant authorities and he ended by saying that he made it clear that at no time did I participated directly or indirectly in any such malpractice and will not hold myself accountable as an accomplice of such action, to date no action has been taken against Mr. Carl Westby or Mr. Benjamin Carrillo as he stated respectfully signed by Mr. Andre Moguel. Now these are things that we have been fighting against from the very onset and I am already seeking legal advice which relates to that issue and like I have said that figure has already been going up because just today another set of people came in with further receipts because we have collectors out there going, we look at the trade license, and the liquor license and the amount of people that owe this council and we run the query on the listing of trade license which adds up to $129,000.00 outstanding to collect so when we are going around to collect these people they are saying that they have paid and they are coming with receipts which were never entered in the system so it is obvious that these monies never come into the council. I know the previous council when Mr. Westby was suspended I don’t know if it was because of this happenings but mainly was after a report that I had made to the council where one business person had made a report with evidence and I brought it and table it to the council and thereafter he was suspended I understand that he was then released from his duties but like they said no, no charges, no actions has been taken against Mr. Westby and I want to make it absolutely clear that I intent to collect whatever monies owing to this council and we are going through the court if we have to but we will do our best to ensure that the people’s money will no longer taken advantage of and we are going to take whatever necessary measures we need to do in order to recover this funds.
And unbeknownst to Mayor Bernard, who also served as a councilor during the reign of the former town council, was that former Mayor Philip De La Fuente had signed a contract with De Mars Stone Company to the tune of one hundred and eighty eight thousand six hundred and forty two dollars and fifty seven cents to upgrade certain streets in Orange Walk Town. Why this particular transaction is raising eyebrows is because during his campaign leading up to the General Elections, the former U.D.P Standard Bearer for Orange Walk Central Denny Grijalva who also happens to be the owner of De Mars Stone Company boasted that he was fixing the streets out of good will. And then there was a check in the sum of fifty thousand dollars paid out to Heimer Hernandez the nephew of the Honorable Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega.
Kevin Bernard- Mayor Orange Walk Town
“One of the things we have picked up going through on our revision of our accounts we saw a payment made to one Hiemer Hernandez and I have the voucher right here and it states here clearly a onetime contribution towards rehabilitation of the San Antonio Road to You Creek Road project for the sum of $50,000.00 as you know prior to the election the UDP were campaigning that they were going to pave that street so I want to know where did this money actually go because we know that it took this Orange Walk town Council, this new elected Orange Walk Town Council to immediately address the issue of that road, we did not pave it but we have uplifted that road and people have given us kudos on that and we will continue to work and push that remaining street to be fixed because it is the responsibility of the ministry of works to have done that but the money was channel through the Orange Walk Town Council and paid out to this individual, what made them not completed or do anything on that road then is the question to ask and the former Mayor who seems to be all of sudden so accountable and transparent should answer this question. We also have another bill on top of us to pay and that was a contract signed with the council and De’Mar’s stone company and we all know who owns that, the former candidate for the UDP for Orange Walk Central and it is in a tune of $88,642.57 where on the 15th day of February 2012 signed by Mr. Phillip de la Fuente and witnessed by Mr. Herman Meza and on behalf of the stone company Mr. Grijalva came into an agreement that this council will pay eighth monthly payments of $10,000.00 payable on the last Friday of every month and a final ninth payment of $8642.57 now it did not states here clearly in which Friday it should commence so we also going to seek some legal opinion on this matter but this $88.000.00 is to go back to the famous treats Mr. Grijalva was claiming he cared for the people, was a man of work doing the Benque Viejo Street and additional from Benque Viejo street 370 feet providing and placing two coat of bitumen with half inch gravel, another $7000.00 there, some work is being done in front of Complex for $29,936.00, cotton street for $15,248.00 it is not me speaking it is the invoices speaking.”
But nothing could have prepared the council for what came next.
Kevin Bernard- Mayor Orange Walk Town
“The week after, I think it was o the Tuesday after the election I got an e-mail from Mr. Andre Moguel again informing me about some social security monies that were never paid in. I had a sit down with the people from the Social Security Board, myself and the new administrator and then we were then given a file where we then found out that $31,099.98 of employees contributions were not paid in to the Social Security from the deduction of employee salaries, now this does not also include the month of January and February for our established staff an in addition for employees that were on the work program the almost hundred employees, I think Social Security gave me the figure of ninety eight employees, currently we awaiting a new assessment for the Social Security Offices to give us what exactly would be the amount owing. We were also informed through that same e-mail that Income tax for 2010 and 2011 has not been reconcile, therefore he claimed that there was a misunderstanding in payments and I am reading from the e-mail, there was a misunderstanding in payments made in 2011 which were payments for the years 2006 and 2007, now if you would recall 2006, 2007 the former Mayor was Deputy Mayor and there were no payments made in 2011 and there were two month payments that was not paid in 2010, so all this added up to another amount which we will right having to try to get in contact with income tax department to see really how much we owe, I was approached last week by one of our employees who had received a letter from income Tax stating that they owe $4000.00 so why were these monies not paid in to the Income Tax Department.”
We will have more on the council’s findings in tomorrow’s newscast.