Detroit’s inspector general is declining to further investigate $685,000 stolen from the Detroit Public Library. The money was stolen through fraudulent wire transfers in 2020 and 2021, according to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO). 

A former library official publicly shared information on this loss on Jan. 10 at the first City Council meeting of the year. This was the first public acknowledgment of this matter, though library and city officials have known about it since 2021.

About $277,000 was recovered by the bank, but an estimated $407,000 is still missing after two years.

After the office received multiple media and other inquiries, the Office of Inspector General opened a claim on Jan. 24 to decide whether to investigate the matter.

The office is not pursuing an investigation because, according to Deputy Inspector General Kamau Marable, it is an “internal dispute” between the OCFO and library officials. 

Furthermore, Marable said, because local law enforcement officials have investigated the matter, the Office of Inspector General does not have further actions to take for this case. 

Local law enforcement has not shared additional information with the public about their investigation, and it is still unclear who stole the money from the library. According to the OCFO, law enforcement identified an individual they believe to be involved, but did not share those details with the office.

The Detroit Police Department declined to comment. Outlier Media sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request last month for details on the investigation. The only response from the police department was a letter extending the time they can legally respond to the request — by Feb. 13.

Information on the case was also forwarded to the FBI and the Secret Service, according to Corporation Counsel Conrad Mallett’s Feb. 3 letter to City Council. Neither agency comments on whether they are conducting investigations.

Mallett’s letter was sent in response to an inquiry by Councilmember Angela Whitfield Calloway seeking answers on the missing DPL money. Calloway asked Mallett’s office to make a recommendation on whether the city should reimburse the library for the loss in the next year. 

“The city is not responsible for authorizing the wire transfers in question,” Mallett said in the letter. “To the extent that the city was involved in the transactions, the city was engaged in the discharge of a governmental function. Furthermore, the city cannot assure or protect against the criminal actions of third parties.”

Detroit Public Library Commission Secretary Franklin Jackson told Outlier that the commission may have to take this matter to the state attorney general’s office for further investigation since city officials aren’t finding answers.

“$400,000 missing is not a dispute,” Jackson said. “That’s still outstanding. It’s not disputed. It’s not a question of it’s missing and somebody’s misplaced it — it’s been stolen.”

Malak (she/her) believes in local journalism that provides people with verified and comprehensive information. Her favorite places to unwind and pick up a new read are at Detroit’s bookstores and libraries.