CPA CYA?

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It’s not often that a single obsolete phrase, buried deep within the city’s Website, sparks outrage and scandal.

But so it is with the three letters, “CPA,” that, until recently, were appended to Chief Financial Officer Gavin Cooley’s name on one city treasurer’s Web page. The problem: Since 2006, Cooley had allowed his certified public accountant credentials to expire.

“You’re not performing as a public accountant at all,” Cooley says about his city duties. And since renewing the certification takes 120 hours over three years, it wasn’t worth the time to keep it up, he says. Cooley removed the term “CPA” from his business cards and his letterheads, but says he had no clue about the treasurer’s Website.

But Ron Wright — a former Riverside, Calif., police officer and longtime River Park Square scandal observer — thinks there’s more to it. He says that Cooley simultaneously let his CPA credentials lapse in order to escape the oversight such a designation brings and let the CPA title linger on one Web page in order to fool, say, bond raters into thinking he was more trustworthy.

Before letting the city know about the inaccurate Web page, Wright sent a complaint to the state Board of Accountancy, sparking an investigation. Misrepresenting yourself as a CPA is a misdemeanor and can carry a $750 fine.

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