Ravalli commissioners determined to hold former treasurer accoun - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Ravalli commissioners determined to hold former treasurer accountable

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Valerie Stamey, former Ravalli County Treasurer Valerie Stamey, former Ravalli County Treasurer

HAMILTON - Ravalli County commissioners are wary of spending more money to find the county's former treasurer, but they express determination to hold Valerie Stamey accountable for a financial mess that cost taxpayers thousands of dollars. 

It's been a year since former Ravalli County Treasurer Valerie Stamey has been seen at a public meeting. When county commissioners decided to levy more than $29,000 in fines through a civil suit, Stamey was nowhere to be found. And that was the case through the summer and fall, when the bank purchased her foreclosed home even as deputies were trying to serve her court papers. 

"The sheriff's department did its best to try and serve her when the summons was issued and attempted service was made," Deputy County Attorney Howard Recht said. "They were unable to locate her in the county." 

"I want to find her. There's a lot of people who have spent large portions of their lives and have been physically affected by this," Ravalli County Commissioner J.R. Iman said.

In a special briefing Wednesday, Recht told commissioners the county has even been trying to find Stamey at a pair of addresses in South Carolina, where she lived before moving to Montana. One hasn't panned out and the other is still pending. But those are the only leads the county has.

"I am not aware of any other potential addresses to try and reach her or serve her," Recht said.

At this point, the county has the option of spending another two years trying to serve her with papers from the current suit. Commissioners want to keep trying, even though they aren't optimistic about ever collecting the fines. They're more concerned with creating a case that would prevent Stamey from ever doing something similar again. 

"I don't believe we're going to squeeze any blood out of the turnip. But I believe that the turnip should probably be squeezed a little. And I agree that we don't want to have someone else go through this," Ravalli County Commissioner Doug Schallenberger said.

"You know, I think that part of it is a lost cause. But I do think that she needs to be served so we can have in the record not only an allegation, but the opportunity to have a judgment whether it gets fulfilled or not," Iman said. 

Commissioners are asking a local process server to help them build an estimate of how much it would cost to "widen the net" and get outside assistance in tracking Stamey down.

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