Former CVB director investigated

Former VisitMinot director Wendy Howe resigned her position June 5, 2014, just hours before a scheduled board meeting of the Minot Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, or VisitMinot. Topics on the agenda for the meeting included “executive director search.” The meeting was canceled following Howe’s resignation.

Subsequently the CVB board has received a report from Rollie Port Investigations on Howe’s activities within the CVB, primarily expenses charged to a CVB credit card. According to the report, Howe made personal purchases that included a laptop computer, a trip to Wisconsin Dells, a stay at the Holiday Inn of Jamestown, a Minot dinner meeting, six State Fair tickets and over $2,500 of gasoline.

Additionally, Howe has reimbursed the CVB for a massage at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev., a PlayStation purchased at Best Buy of Minot and for a motel room in Bismarck. In the report Howe states she did not catch those oversights at the time they occurred.

The investigative report claims Howe “lied and deceived the board” and had a pattern of mixing up the personal and business credit cards to pay for items. The report also says Howe stated she had “merely used the office Visa by mistake” to purchase the laptop and that room charges of $827 at Wisconsin Dells was for the purpose of checking out a proposed convention site on behalf of the Upper Midwest Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. According to CVB records, Howe was on paid vacation during the time of the Wisconsin Dells trip.

The investigative report did not include any activities prior to late 2013. Howe had been with the CVB more than 11 years at the time of her resignation. Although the report did not give an exact total of expenses allegedly charged by Howe to the CVB credit card, the total amount of dollars claimed in the report to be inappropriate expenses approaches $10,000.

The CVB is funded by taxpayer dollars, most of which is obtained by a motel/hotel lodging tax.

In North Dakota it is a Class B felony if damage incurred is more than $10,000 and was done intentionally, a Class C felony if damage inured is between $2,000 and $10,000 and a Class A misdemeanor if damage is committed intentionally and valued between $100 and $2,000. Penalties for those offenses range from one year in jail and $2,000 in fines to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. No charges have been filed in the case.