The former director of operations at the Metro Waste Authority in Des Moines is being accused of making at least $1.8 million in improper payments, including nearly $1.2 million to a shell company he created.
An investigation by the state auditor’s office shows that Jeff Dworek sent bills to the MWA from a fake company named Britad for work he was already doing. Dworek then approved the invoices himself, picked up the checks in person and deposited them into an account with his name.
State Auditor Rob Sand said no one at the waste authority knew about the company or the payments.
“In essence he was getting a salary to do the work, then submitting invoices as a company owned entirely by himself describing work he was already getting a paycheck for,” Sand said.
Dworek is also accused of authorizing excessive payments to an actual MWA contractor called International Telemetry Technologies (ITT) which was run by a close acquaintance. According to the investigation, ITT inflated the cost of services it provided to the waste authority and Dworek signed off on the payments.
MWA believes the alleged scheme began in 2013 and continued until Dworek resigned in March 2017. By then executive director Michael McCoy, who was new to the organization, said he was asking about the unexplained invoices. McCoy said Dworek resigned rather than sign an affidavit explaining them. The MWA later asked the auditor’s office to investigate.
Sand said counties, cities and joint government organizations like the Metro Waste Authority are not required to request bids for services, but it can help prevent corrupt payments.
“When you bid out a project you get a good idea of what the marketplace is going to bear,” Sand said. “At the same time if you’re bidding things out that’s going to prevent conflicts of interest and can help prevent price inflation because you’re asking multiple sources for their best offers.”
McCoy said when the payments were first uncovered, the organization took immediate steps to close loopholes.
“We do not allow checks to be picked up at the office,” McCoy said, adding that all vendors now must have a physical business location that is vetted in person.
Sand said state auditor staff members worked with FBI investigators on the case. He said the report has been shared with local, state and federal prosecutors who could bring criminal charges.