Auditor of State Rob Sand released a report today about a special investigation of a former Iowa State University Jones County Extension director. The investigation came after ISU Extension officials requested the State Auditor take a look into the transactions of Jennifer Fischer between October 1, 2016, and September 30, 2020.

The investigation identified $52,286.17 of improper disbursements and $33,659.28 of unsupported disbursements.  

What Were the Funds Used For?

Improper disbursements that were identified in the report include personal purchases of $8,432.56 from Amazon, $6,394.68 from department stores, $3,651.43 from grocery stores, and $11,728.19 from other vendors. Findings also showed that Fischer used $17,135.56 for unauthorized payouts of paid time off, payments in place of insurance, and travel reimbursements.

Personal purchases Fischer made included alcohol, gift cards, gaming laptop, Xbox 360, Apple AirPods, Amazon Prime videos, special edition Oculus, tickets to Texas for her and her daughter, and more.

Unsupported disbursements that were identified in the report include $30,537.65 worth of purchases with Extension’s credit cards along with $3,121.64 in travel reimbursements paid to Fisher. These purchases or reimbursements were not supported by sufficient documentation, so there was no way to determine whether or not they were reasonable for Extension operations.

According to the report, because Fischer was issued an Extension credit card, there should have been no need for Fischer to need to make purchases for the organization with her personal funds for reimbursement.

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A report by Radio Iowa says Fischer was placed on leave in August 2020 when questions arose about the airline ticket purchase on the Extension card. She was fired 17 days later.

According to Sand’s report, he recommends that ISU Extension implements procedures that ensure the organization’s internal controls are strengthened.  

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