IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- A Robins religions mission is at the center of an investigation that has led to the firings of the executive director of the Iowa Communications Network (ICN) and two subordinates.
The firings came after State Auditor Mary Mosiman released an audit Thursday alleging misspending and cronyism under the tenure of executive director Ric Lumbard. The report says Lumbard improperly awarded jobs and contracts to individuals associated with a nonprofit Christian ministry he also leads.
The report says that Lumbard and two associates he hired, Jessica Jensen and T.J. Boulet, were fired earlier this month ahead of the audit's release. A criminal investigation is ongoing.
Lumbard and his wife founded the Wind and Fire Ministries (WFM), which had been based in a building off County Home Road in Robins (formerly Marion) as well as an office in the Central American country of Belize. The ministry lists its mission as "Night & Day Prayer, being a Place of Refuge and Restoration and Equipping in the Kingdom of God." It also has a focus on ending human trafficking.
KCRG-TV9 has learned the WFM sold its property in Robins shortly after a state investigation began and the site is no longer operating as a church. In November, Jerry Sunderman purchased the 38 acre property for $1.5 million. Sunderman told TV9 he never met Lumbard and bought the land as an opportunity, planning to develop it as office space.
The sale came about a month after DCI agents searched Lumbard's offices in Des Moines and the facebook pages for WFM as part of the audit report.
The audit says Lumbard purchased items through ICN, transferred them to WFM and then sold on E-Bay under another company, COH Logistics. Lumbard is listed as the president of COH Logistics, which operates out of the WFM property. A tax filing says WFM started COH Logistics to handle operations for its three divisions in Iowa and overseas. The audit says proceeds of the sales were not deposited with ICN.
Search warrants filed with the case, show similar items listed for sale on the WFM Facebook pages during a parking lot sale in June. An employee at WFM told investigators the items were donated but could not produce paperwork to prove it.
Mosiman's report also says Lumbard repeatedly circumvented rules requiring competitive bidding on government contracts, created unnecessary jobs, hired unqualified individuals and awarded employees excessive pay increases.
Search warrants note Lumbard gave Jensen, his executive secretary, a 36% pay raise in 28 months, bringing her salary from $48,000 to $61,000 a year. When she went on medical leave, Lumbard hired an employee of WFM to fill in.
The warrant also says Lombard hired TJ Boulet to replace a retiring director despite advice from the department's counsel not to hire him. The director retiring also said he had no plans to retire. Boulet also has connections to WFM.
Lumbard also routinely traveled to Belize to work at the WFM location there, submitting travel expenses to the state for the trips, according to the search warrant.
The 2015 Tax Form 990 for WFM church lists $3.4 million in assets, mostly in land and buildings, and says all employees are unpaid volunteers.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version stated the land was sold for $1, this was taken from a related filing but not the final sale price of $1.5 million.