In October 2015, shortly after Scott Westerhuis killed his family and himself to avoid facing the punishment for stealing millions from taxpayers via the GEAR UP program, I reported that the Mid-Central Educational Cooperative‘s financial reports showed discrepancies totaling over $3 million. Over the past year, I’ve asked how Parkston accounting firm Schoenfish and Company could have missed such obvious and enormous errors in its audits of Mid-Central’s books.
Facing a multi-million-dollar class action lawsuit on behalf of Native American students allegedly cheated by the Westerhuises’ embezzlement of GEAR UP funds, the unwinding Mid-Central is now asking the same question by naming Schoenfish and Company as third-party defendants in the lawsuit:
Mid Central says if it is found to be at fault, its fault is “slight in comparison to the fault of Schoenfish & Company.” Mid Central says the accounting firm should have caught any missing money [Angela Kennecke, “SD Legislator’s Accounting Firm Named in GEAR UP Lawsuit,” KELO-TV, 2017.02.28].
Dragging the accountants into the lawsuit matters in part because one of those accountants is Republican Representative Kyle Schoenfish of District 19.
KELOLAND News tried to reach Kyle Schoenfish Tuesday for comment. We’ll let you know when we hear back from him.
This isn’t the first time the accounting firm of Schoenfish & Company has been under scrutiny over not catching the misuse of GEAR UP funds.
An independent group of citizens has prepared a list of ten questions it would like lawmaker Kyle Schoenfish to answer and has submitted them to the South Dakota Auditor General.
They specifically ask about discrepancies in Mid Central’s balances and if Schoenfish ever reported them to anyone outside of Mid Central. We’ve posted those ten questions online on this story if you’d like to read them.
KELOLAND News spoke with Randy Schoenfish, Kyle’s father who told me he cannot answer those questions due to client confidentiality [Kennecke, 2017.02.28].
Hey: when your client sells you out and tries to make you foot the bill for a lawsuit, are you still bound by client confidentiality?