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Frankenfeld: Deeper GEAR UP Audit Needed

Photo courtesy of Don Frankenfeld

A forensic economist says the independent audit of Mid-Central Educational Cooperative’s financial dealings with the GEAR UP program shows no major wrongdoing.

The audit was completed after two employees of Mid-Central and their four children died in what investigators call a murder suicide shortly after the state terminated its contract with the cooperative. 

Don Frankenfeld is a forensic economist in Rapid City.  He did not take part in the independent audit just released by the Eide Bailly accounting firm.  But after an initial reading, Frankenfeld calls the audit a well done report.   “However it occurs to me this audit is sort of a productive first step there is more to be discovered,” he adds.

Frankenfeld says the audit turned up some minor discrepancies showing what he calls some sloppy accounting procedures at the cooperative but no major obvious problems.  He says a second more extensive audit is needed to take a deeper look at the payments made to each vendor.

“I think enough has happened, red flags as they say, including the tragic deaths of two people who worked at the co-op and their children.  Enough questions, I think have been raised that I think a thorough analysis is appropriate, particularly  when we’re talking about more than $6-million in state and ultimately federal money was expended,” says Frankenfeld.

In a press release Mid-Central Cooperative calls the audit very positive.  Coop officials say they want to maintain the trust of those they serve.   State regulators who are undertaking a separate audit have promised to follow the money wherever it leads.


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