Former Green River Main Street Administrator pleads not guilty to theft charges

0
200

Photo Courtesy of Sweetwater County Detention Center

Wyo4News Staff, [email protected]

SWEETWATER COUNTY, WYOMING — Jennifer Melvin, former Administrator of the Green River Urban Renewal Agency (URA), was arrested in July on two counts of larceny following multiple investigations revolving around funds lost within the URA accounts. This morning, Melvin appeared in front of the Honorable Judge Lavery in the Third Judicial District Court of Sweetwater County, where she pleaded not guilty to both charges.

If convicted, Melvin could face up to 10 years imprisonment for each charge, fines not more than $10,000 for each charge, or both, as well as other court-related fees.

Trial Date

A trial has been scheduled to take place on January 8, 2024, beginning at 9:00 a.m. before Judge Lavery in the Third Judicial District Court of Sweetwater County.

Affidavit Proclamation

Within the affidavit provided by the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI), it was found that after Melvin’s dismissal in May of 2023, all work-related mail was forwarded to other employees within the City of Green River, which is where suspicious withdrawals and payments were found. It was noted that many of these withdrawals and payments led to the account being overdrawn multiple times. 

With further investigation, DCI Special Agent Roy Warren found that the ending balance of the Flaming Gorge Days account in December 2021 was $48,391.51, and at the end of December 2022, the account held $4,487.41. Many charges noted on the debit card account came from supermarkets, betting companies, gas stations, online shopping companies, rental companies, hotels, retail stores, phone companies, and liquor stores. In May of 2023, the account was overdrawn by $345.95.

The affidavit noted that during these transactions, Melvin had moved money from the URA account to the Flaming Gorge Days account to offset the uneven balances. Melvin was in charge of the only debit card issued for the Flaming Gorge Days account.

Between June 8, 2022, and May 21, 2023, Melvin allegedly stole a total of $42,942.55 from the Flaming Gorge Days account.

The ending balance in 2022 on the URA account ended with $76,580.31. In January of 2023 through May 2023, there were checks made to the Flaming Gorge Days account totaling $22,500.00; however, at the end of May of 2023, the account held a negative balance.

In 2021, the URA began the “Downtown Dollars” program, which allowed people to win vouchers for many businesses around downtown Green River. If the business received a “Downtown Dollar”, Melvin would reimburse the business with a check. Within the affidavit, it reads that 13 checks were written as “cash” whereas other checks had business names listed.

DCI Special Agent Dan Allison found that a high volume of “Downtown Dollars” businesses submitted vouchers in amounts of $300.00 to $175.00. But between April 2021 and January 2022, a single Green River business was “cash” reimbursed a total of $3,575.00 with no notes related to the “Downtown Dollars” program. No other “Downtown Dollars” business exceeded this amount.

Between January 14, 2021, and May 30, 2023, a total of $34,551.53 was allegedly stolen from the URA account.

Future Plans of the Green River URA

At this time, the City of Green River has made no comment on the current plans of hiring a new URA Administrator or the URA itself.