HMB Beautification Committee missing $130,000

By on Sat, March 5, 2011

The Review is reporting that the Half Moon Bay Beautification Committee is unable to account for $130,000 in checks signed by “beloved civic leader” and board member Jack Olsen. Olsen, the executive director of the San Mateo County Farm Bureau died in May, 2010.  The Beautification Committee operates the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival.

Palmer said the organization’s policy requires two signatures on any checks drawn from the nine-member committee’s bank accounts. But, he said Olsen wrote a number of checks from the committee’s First National Bank account, totaling about $130,000. Those checks were written out to other Peninsula banks. Palmer said he didn’t know whether the banks cashed the checks directly to Olsen or transferred the money to other accounts or what Olsen might have used the money for. [...]

Sources familiar with the private Farm Bureau say the organization has investigated the loss of thousands of dollars that Olsen controlled. Farm Bureau officials have repeatedly declined to discuss the matter. Palmer said the Beautification Committee began its investigation in the spring of 2010, shortly before Olsen died, after hearing rumblings of financial mismanagement within the Farm Bureau.

The Beautification Committee says it still has about $150,000 in the bank and has asked its bank to require two signatures on all checks in the future. It hopes to get as much as $100,000 from its directors and officers insurance.