A long-time Sarpy County official faces a felony theft charge in connection with allegations that he misused a county gasoline card for personal use.
The Sarpy County Attorney’s Office has charged Bellevue resident Patrick K. Clarke with taking more than $1,500 in county property. The charge carries between one to 20 years in prison, if Clarke is convicted.
County Attorney Lee Polikov said Clarke, 56, is accused of using a county-issued gasoline card to fill up his personal vehicle over an extended period. Clarke is the county’s fleet services director, which is a management position.
Polikov said Clarke had permission to use the card to fill up his county-issued vehicle, but county officials are forbidden from using the county’s fuel pumps to fill up their private vehicles. The criminal complaint alleges the thefts occurred between May 18, 2011, and Sept. 1, 2012.
Polikov said a sheriff’s investigation also discovered that several tools purchased by the county were in Clarke’s possession, including wrenches, pliers and screw drivers.
Clarke was scheduled to meet with county officials Tuesday for closed-door hearing on his possible termination. The county said it put Clarke on administrative leave on Sept. 26.
“I am surprised and it’s disappointing, but we are being aggressive on it,” Polikov said of bringing the charge. “But it’s the reason you have policies and procedures. It’s the taxpayers money so there is there a concern.”
Clarke has worked for the county since the late 1970s, Polikov said, and he has served as a long-time Bellevue volunteer firefighter.
Polikov said the ongoing criminal investigation spanned a two-year period. He said the county plans to conduct an audit of the fleet services department to establish the extent of any losses and to correct any deficiencies in its accounting practices.
Clarke is set to be arraigned in Sarpy County Court on Oct. 31.
Contact the writer: