Embattled Ravalli Co. treasurer's attorney defends client, alleges corruption


Embattled Ravalli County treasurer's attorney defends client, alleges corruption

HAMILTON, Mont. - Ravalli County treasurer Valerie Stamey's attorney said county commissioners broke the law when they put her on leave.

Robert Myers said his client was uncovering corruption that had spread throughout county government. Myers said the county attorney's call for an investigation and audit is worthless. He wants the FBI.

"You need a forensic criminal investigation of this department," said Myers.

He's made charges that the county's chief financial officer used county software to make Stamey appear incompetent.

"Klarryse Murphy can make anybody look like they don't know what they're doing," said Myers. "Klarryse Murphy, with the software used by the county, can make it look like you killed your mother."

"I just don't have the time to think about making someone look incompetent," said Murphy. "I just need to have things proper and accurate."

Myers also said commissioner J.R. Iman refused Stamey access to the bank accounts and prevented her from learning the combination to the safe, and told her to be careful who she talked to. Iman said he had nothing to do with the treasurer's lock code combination or keys.

"I had no signatory authority," said Iman, "because I wasn't board chairman."

Stamey's attorney also said head tax clerk Linda Isaacs played favorites when she assigned tax liens.

"Pretty much every tax lien sold by Ravalli County," said Myers, "is invalid."

Isaacs said, "I did nothing wrong with the assignments, nothing illegal."

The attorney said he will work to bring Stamey back to her job. He said the county exceeded their authority in removing his client from her post.

On Friday, county officials entered Stamey's office to retrieve undeposited checks they said she had been working on. Officials said they want to make sure those checks get deposited.

A State Department of Administration accountant is advising county workers so they can get the troubled office back on its feet.

Locks to the treasurer's office front door, Stamey's office and vault are new. Human Resources said the computer system is backed up and Stamey's access has been removed. And human resources reports workers have new passwords.

NBC Montana has been covering the trouble in the Treasurer's office for more than a week. On January 13, officials met with commissioners to discuss financial discrepancies in the Treasurer's office, complaining that Stamey had not released financial reports since September. This past Tuesday, after the County demanded answers, Stamey instead delivered a scathing indictment against about a half-dozen current and former county employees, and called her office a crime scene of past illegal activity.

On Wednesday, Ravalli County Attorney Bill Fulbright announced that he was ordering an independent two-pronged investigation, expected to look at allegations from and against Stamey. Commissioners put Stamey on paid administrative leave Friday. 

For a video-timeline of our coverage, click here.

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