Pierce County prosecutors have charged the former chief financial officer of Tacoma’s WorkForce Central with first-degree theft for allegedly transferring more than $52,000 in public funds into his personal account.
Lance K. Mertz has been summoned to Superior Court for arraignment Thursday.
Attempts to reach his attorney Monday were not successful.
Mertz was fired as CFO of the quasi-governmental job training and employment agency in spring 2011 after a co-worker discovered what appeared to be a suspicious transfer from the agency’s accounts, court records state.
Prosecutors allege Mertz created a fictitious vendor in the agency’s computer system and then authorized an electronic payment of $52,383.24 to the vendor. The money actually was deposited into one of his bank accounts, charging papers show.
The amount included more than $50,000 in local and state funds and more than $1,500 in federal funds.
WorkForce officials notified the state Auditor’s Office of the suspicious transfer, and the state agency investigated and eventually forwarded its conclusions to the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
At the time of the alleged theft, WorkForce, also known as the Tacoma-Pierce County Employment and Training Consortium, had an annual budget of $12.6 million and a staff of 46.
Mertz was hired at WorkForce in June 2009. The alleged misappropriation appeared to be a one-time occurrence, state auditors said.
Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644