Posted Online: Nov. 08, 2012, 10:36 pm

Mercer County plans forensic audit of treasurer's office

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By Pam Berenger pberenger@qconline.com

ALEDO — The first part of a forensic audit of the Mercer County's treasurer's office is set to begin.

Following a brief closed session Thursday night, the Mercer County Board voted unanimously to hire McGladrey and Pullen LLP, Peoria, to begin the forensic audit.

The audit comes in the wake of charges alleging that Mercer County Treasurer Mike Bertelsen committed felony theft by stealing $800 from the Republican County Central Committee.On Oct. 2, Mr. Bertelsen, county treasurer since 1994, pleaded innocent to the charge. He is free on bond and has returned to work in the treasurer's office.

In September, Mercer County State's Attorney Greg McHugh recommended a forensic audit of the treasurer's office. Citing the cost, the county board delayed a decision until the regular audit was completed to see if it revealed any irregularities.

Cost of the county's last forensic audit, conducted in 2009, was $88,000.

In other financial matters, board members authorized a $150,000 payment to the Mercer County Building Commission, $250,000 to the Mercer County Highway Department and $55,079 to the Tort Liability Fund from the $495,277 in proceeds from the sale of the Mercer County Airport. The remaining money will be deposited into the General Fund.

The transfer of money to the tort fund means staff at the Mercer County Sherriff's Department and Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers will be paid backpay for holidays. Although an arbitrator awarded $55,079 to the groups on June 6, there was insufficient money to make the payment.