VCDC official resigns, investigation planned

VCDC official resigns, investigation planned
The South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigation is likely going to assist the Vermillion Police Department as it investigates whether a crime has been committed related to a financial problem at the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce and Development Company (VCDC).

"We're in the process … I think the DCI is going to carry the case and will likely be responsible for the bulk of the investigation," said Captain Chad Passick of the Vermillion Police Department.

Early Friday afternoon, the VCDC released this statement to its board members:

"On Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007, our program manager, Tina Harnois, resigned.� Some discrepancies about financial matters have come to the attention of the VCDC Board of Directors. The board has enlisted the assistance of law enforcement and intends to hire an accountant to do a thorough review of all accounting records.�

"The board of directors is taking a proactive approach to resolve this matter as soon as possible. We will keep the membership updated as the situation warrants …"

VCDC officials, citing the plans for an investigation, limited their comments to the prepared statement.

"Considering the circumstances, we've released the statement, but that's all we have today," said Farron Pratt, president of the VCDC board of directors.

Pratt said he couldn't comment on any aspects of the financial discrepancies that have come to the VCDC board's attention.

"We're not trying to hide anything by any means," he said. "We're going to update the membership as we continue to gather more information. We want to remain as positive through this as we can."

Friday afternoon, Passick was making needed arrangements for the DCI to step in and assist with the investigation.

Passick said the Vermillion Police Department has been asked to objectively look at the situation at the VCDC to help determine whether any criminal activity has taken place.

"Our involvement is probably going to be somewhat peripheral," he said. "At that this point, we can't even say that there has been any criminal activity. Our intent at this point is to initially determine if there has been something that constitutes criminal activity, or if we are dealing with something that doesn't rise to that."

The DCI, Passick said, has a multitude of resources that can be used to assist local officials with the investigation. "Their involvement also helps dispel any perception of any conflict of interest due to the city's financial interest (in the VCDC)."

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