Gretna City Administrator Fired, Then Arrested

By: WOWT, The Associated Press contributed to this report Email
By: WOWT, The Associated Press contributed to this report Email

Posted May 2

Investigators shed more light Wednesday into the case against the former city administrator for Gretna, Colleen Lawry. She goes before a judge Thursday morning in Sarpy County court for bond review.

Lawry has been charged with theft between $500 - $1,500.

Investigators allege she used funds that were set aside for the Gretna Senior Center.

When the organization checked the balance, there should have been $900 in it. Instead, there was $11.

Investigators say Lawry called it a mistake and put the money back.

The organization chalked it up as the same until the state auditor issued a report last week.

In it -- Mike Foley criticized Lawry for her use of city credit cards for personal use -- essentially getting an interest free loan on the taxpayers' dime.

Because of the report which questioned a variety of issues related to city hall finances, the Senior Center told the State Auditor and Sarpy County Sheriff's Office investigators what had happened to their account.

Gretna City Attorney John K. Green says the city council took several steps to tighten up policies regarding city credit cards. He explained that city hall had played loose with its rules and the attitudes of a small town don't work anymore as Gretna continues to grow.

Mike Foley tells Channel 6: "We're pleased people are paying attention [to the auditor's report].

Sources tell us the Nebraska State Patrol is investigating the information the auditor uncovered.

Posted May 1

The Sarpy County Sheriff is investigating the possibility of funds missing from the Gretna Senior Center. Late Tuesday, city administrator Colleen Lawry was arrested for theft of services.

Sheriff Jeff Davis tells Fact Finders he received questions about the whereabouts of funds for seniors in Gretna.

Tuesday night, deputies seized documents from city hall and took Ms. Lawry into custody.

Last week -- the Nebraska State Auditor raised several questions about how the city was handling its credit cards and finances.

Posted April 27

The Nebraska state auditor's office has questioned spending by city officials in the west Omaha suburb of Gretna.

State Auditor Mike Foley sent a letter dated Thursday to City
Council President Jason Stahr that raised questions about use of
city credit cards and the city's lack of financial controls.

Foley cited in one example that the city administrator's used her city card for personal purchases.

Foley says that even though city administrator Colleen Lawry paid back the city, state law bars such purchases.

A city news release sent under the name of Mayor Sally McGuire
acknowledges that Foley raise "some legitimate concerns which will
be corrected."

But the letter also characterized the auditor's letter as "an attack on the finances and employees" of the city.

The report from State Auditor Mike Foley made several recommendations to the city of Gretna such as developing written policies regarding credit card use, city vehicles and formal travel approval procedures.

In once instance, the state auditor wondered how she was able to charge 18.916 gallons of gas for her city vehicle when the Chrysler Sebring LX Sedan has a 16.9 gallon tank.

In another instance, he questioned the out-of-town conference charges for lunch and breakfast when the agenda said lunch and/or breakfast was included.

Foley also noted the city of Gretna paying for 3-days of lodging expenses for employees at a conference in Lincoln.

Channel Six Fact Finders has learned the Nebraska State Patrol is investigating the allegations.

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