A former Trios Health employee allegedly charged more than $11,000 in personal expenses to one of the public hospital district’s credit cards, sparking a police investigation and a review by the state auditor’s office.
The employee, Bonnie I. Blowers, 58, of Kennewick, was fired after the alleged misuse was discovered.
The personal charges included airfare, cellphone services, haircuts, pet-related expenses, clothing, Amazon purchases and items at an online marijuana supply store, documents said.
She is charged in Benton County Superior Court with first-degree theft, with the aggravating circumstance that the crime was a major economic offense.
Blowers didn’t show up for her court date last summer and a warrant has been issued for her arrest, said Terry Bloor, Benton County’s chief deputy prosecutor.
Blowers allegedly charged $11,510 on a credit card she was supposed to use for medical equipment and medical supplies as a purchasing agent in Trios’ Materials Management department, according to court documents and the auditor report.
Bonnie I. Blowers is accused of charging personal airfare, cell phone services, haircuts, pet-related expenses, clothing, Amazon purchases and items at an online marijuana supply store, documents said.
Trios officials discovered the charges, which were made between October 2015 and March 2016, and confronted Blowers, documents said. She admitted to the unauthorized purchases, although she didn’t know the total amount, documents said.
Blowers was fired, and Trios officials filed a report with the Kennewick Police Department. They also contacted the state auditor’s office.
In its report, released Monday, the auditor’s office said Trios should strengthen internal controls over credit card purchases and expenditure approvals “to ensure adequate oversight and monitoring to safeguard public resources and compliance with district policies.”
The auditor’s office also recommended the district seek recovery of the $11,510, plus investigation costs of $1,400, from Blowers and/or the district’s insurance bonding company.
In a response in the report, Trios officials said tightened credit card oversight is in place and the district will pursue reimbursement.
Trios spokeswoman Lisa Teske told the Herald that the district’s safeguards worked. “We did everything we were supposed to do and acted swiftly and appropriately,” she said.
She didn’t name Blowers as the employee, and neither did the auditor’s office report. Blowers’ name was in court records.
The Kennewick Public Hospital District goes by Trios Health. The district includes two hospitals — Trios Southridge Hospital and the Trios Women’s and Children’s Hospital — plus a network of care centers and services.