Wednesday, January 30th, 2019
Ex-radio manager denies misusing funds
By Tom Stankard
ROCKFORD - Former Rockford radio station volunteer manager Jim Crocker on Monday said he did not misuse radio station funds and will fight state auditor's office claims that he must pay more than $11,000 in restitution to the village.
Crocker said he had struck a deal with village officials when WRKD-FM went on the air in December 2014 that the village would hold the Federal Communications Commission license and he would own all the equipment and have full control of the station.
He had operated the station as part of his business, C&C Broadcasting, now Crocker Media Group LLC. His business was not a limited liability corporation when the station first went on the air, so he was unable to open a bank account. Village officials suggested Crocker open a village checking account specifically for the station, with himself, village fiscal officer Lisa Kuhn and another village representative named on the account.
Every purchase made on the account was for business-related expenses, he stressed. If he did not have the necessary funds to cover expenses, Crocker said he used his and his wife's personal account to make up the difference.
"I had full control of the account. I did not have to ask anybody to buy anything. All monies that went into the account was all from underwriters and donations. Not 1 cent of taxpayer money went into the account," he said.
Crocker said his business became an LLC in the fall of 2017, and he then was able to open a separate checking account. He had informed council members he would transfer the money from the village account into the new business account and said he had felt blindsided when shortly afterward he was relieved of his duties as station manager.
Bank records show Crocker made 93 purchases from the village's account for the station purchases deemed to be non-business related, according to an Ohio Auditor's Office news release. The purchases totaling $3,529 took place between May 12, 2014, and Jan. 12, 2018. These purchases included food, gas, liquid nicotine inhalant and payment to a stock transfer company.
Crocker said gas was purchased for business-related trips, and the other purchases were made in attempts to get underwriters. Crocker also noted he sold stocks to collect money that he put into his personal account to help pay bills.
He also reportedly made 73 transactions totaling $3,002 that lacked supporting documentation. Officials could not reasonably determine based on the goods and services provided if the purchases were for a public purpose, the audit stated.
Crocker reportedly used the same account to write 11 checks totaling $1,220 to himself, his wife and their business without council authorization.
From July 2015 to January 2018, Crocker wrote five checks totaling $555 from his personal accounts, which were issued to and deposited into the village's WRKD account. The auditor's office accepted these deposits as partial restitution against the finding for recovery.
The auditor's public information officer Jake Gordon has said Crocker has been notified of the money he owes.
Crocker said the auditor's office was not aware of the deal giving him full control of the station. If the auditor's office finds this is the case, it would end the matter, he said.
If not, money collected will be put into the village's radio station line item as part of the general fund, Kuhn has said.
Council member Steve Gehle said he was worried Crocker would eventually try to transfer control of the village's FCC license to his business and he didn't want this to happen.
Since Crocker has been relieved of his duties, the station has been managed by four officers, president Gehle, vice president Todd Henkle, secretary Kevin Browning and treasurer Chris Rasbach. They also serve as station board members with Gehle representing village council.