LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – City council members are demanding answers from Lansing Board of Water and Light officials after a 6 News investigation found that the former interval auditor was fired for misusing the company’s credit card – to a total of thousands of dollars.
In May 2022, Frank Macciocca joined BWL as the utility’s internal auditor. It was his job to make sure the company spent its money properly and review policy. That job came with an agreement to cover moving costs, Michigan State University classes, and professional fees.
But under that agreement, Macciocca was supposed to cover the cost upfront for the classes and get reimbursed later. Instead, costs started to stack up on his credit card.
Over the course of around 8 months, records obtained by 6 News show Macciocca also used a company credit card for what the board later called unauthorized food at local restaurants, travel and school costs. Those expenses totaled to $30,697.26.
After an internal review and an outside investigation that cost another $30,000, the board fired Macciocca in May 2023 with BWL appearing to not make any effort to recover the money.
When contacted, Macciocca chose not to agree to an interview.
For weeks and months, BWL commissioners would not answer questions, either. Chair Semone James was escorted by security during September's commission meeting. James did not stop to answer questions.
Lansing City Council member Ryan Kost says it comes off as a double standard when compared to customers who get utility shut-off notices after falling behind on their bills.
"They give no mercy to someone who doesn't pay their electric or water bill. But if someone charges $31,000 on a credit card, no problem. That is sending the wrong message," said Kost.
Kost also called for the resignation of any commissioners involved in offering Macciocca a severance package, something he did not sign on to.
Council President Carol Wood says she wants to know what changes were made after another case of misused funds years ago in BWL's history. She says commissioners need to ensure changes are made.
"As they look at new hires and look at making replacements, that they have things in place that this won't happen again," she said.
Member Patricia Spitzley says she wants a full report from BWL commissioners on how the incident was handled and press to get money back.
"That kind of money is real dollars. As a representative for the people of the City of Lansing, our folks are going to be asking us about it, and they are going to be asking us what we have done as a council to get to the bottom of it," said Spitzley.
In a statement, Lansing Mayor Andy Schor says commissioners have made "great" hiring decisions in the past.
"I am confident that they work to hold staff and each other accountable and have further confidence that they made the right moves to ensure broader financial oversight and that something like this cannot happen in the future," the statement said in part.
Since Macciocca's firing, BWL commissioners have voted to change both the company's fraud prevention and credit card policies. The commissioner in charge of overseeing his expenses, Dusty Horwitt, also stepped down from the board. He didn't respond to an email, and 6 News was unable to track him down for comment.
Commissioners are expected to meet Thursday at the REOtown Depot to vote on a new internal auditor as well as meet with Lansing city officials.