The daughter of Bonanza City’s mayor is charged with theft after stealing more than $38,000 from the city. The mayor’s daughter, who also works as the city’s administrative assistant, used the city’s funds to spend thousands of dollars on shopping and dining, says Begneaud.
Bonanza City Mayor Elmer Nelson’s daughter, Laurie Lynn Denham, 57, was charged with one count of theft of property after Circuit Judge Stephen Tabor discovered a probable cause for the arrest last November 23, 2022. According to a state audit, Denham made unauthorized disbursements worth $38,042 from January 2018 to May 2022. 36 of those salary checks were a total of $16,708 and were extras written for herself. Denham also spent $21,334 to buy gift cards in stores like Lowe’s, Bed, Bath & Beyond, hotels.com, and in numerous restaurants, as reported by Mobley.
After performing a legislative investigation, auditors asked Denham to provide documents for the city’s expenses as the administrative assistant. However, according to the affidavit, the auditors noticed many discrepancies in those documents that differed from what the banks have originally issued. This called forth a request for a criminal investigation to further look into the matter, says Saccente.
What does the Bonanza Mayor have to say?
Bonanza City Mayor Elmer Nelson was questioned by the state’s Legislative Joint Auditing Committee about the audit findings. Nelson responded that he was “totally unaware” of the discrepancies that have been reported. “I was totally unaware of everything. She took care of the books and all that stuff, and it hit me like a wedge,” Nelson said.
According to Daniel Shue, the Sebastian County Prosecutor, Denham had already pled guilty to theft by deception last October 2016. Although, this happened before Nelson took office and the Bonanza City Council still let Denham retain her job as the city’s administrative assistant. However, at present, Denham has been fired and the city has already employed a new administrative assistant, says Mobley.