Former fair CEO Pamela Fyock fired for alleged financial abuse

Former Tulare County Fair CEO Pamela Fyock is fired as acting CEO of the Sacramento County Fair after audits reveal questionable reimbursements she gave herself totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars from both fairs

SACRAMENTO – The former Tulare County Fair CEO has been fired from the Sacramento County Fair after audits revealed financial irregularities and mismanagement. 

Pamela Fyock was dismissed as acting CEO of the Sacramento County Fair by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), which oversees county fairs through its Division of Marketing Services’ Fairs & Exposition. Fyock’s firing comes just three months before the Sacramento County Fair, slated for May 26-30. 

CDFA conducted audits of both fairs, officially referring to Tulare as the 24th and Sacramento the 52nd District Agricultural Associations (DAA), beginning in 2020 and continuing into 2021 after a Tulare County Fair board member raised concerns about “Employee A” issuing checks to herself without documentation or approval from the board. Sources close to the fair confirmed Fyock is the “Employee A” mentioned in both audits.

Auditors said Fyock reimbursed herself about half of a million dollars between the two fairs, including 91 checks for $256,495 from the Tulare County and 74 checks and fund transfers totaling $242,554 from the Sacramento County Fair. Of those checks, auditors said Fyock was unable to show documentation to justify $73,973 in Tulare County and $107,230 in Sacramento County. Another $20,621 in reimbursements from Tulare County used the same receipt two and three times.

The CDFA Performance Audit Update has been on the Tulare County Fair Board’s meeting agendas for more than a year. The board reviewed its responses to the audit last January and February. Tulare County Fair CEO Dena Rizzardo said she and the board members would not be making any comments regarding the audit or its findings. 

Fyock was hired by the Tulare County Fair in 2013 after turning around the Sacramento Fair where she set attendance records and helped the fair find its financial footing. She ran both fairs between 2017-2020. She officially left the Tulare County Fair in November 2019 and officially took over operations of the Sacramento County Fair in January 2020. 

Officials from the Sacramento County Fair did not return calls as of press time.

Some of Fyock’s reimbursements to herself included $7,640 for the purchase of her personal cell phone and tablet, $886 for 18 monthly payments for the personal cell phone and tablet, which she kept after her employment with TC Fair ended, eight checks totalling $871 for interest on personal credit cards, late fees and monthly fees for her home internet and miscellaneous items she purchased from a local store.

Fyock also reimbursed herself for $3,503 in food and meal purchases she claimed were for business purposes but did not include a list of people at the dinners required by CDFA’s Accounting Procedures Manual. Fyock failed to provide documentation for $4,392 in vehicle mileage reimbursement. 

The audit goes on to state Fyock was paid for services by two nonprofits, both of which provided services to the TC Fair, even though she claimed she was a volunteer for them and did not approve the compensation through the state between 2015 and 2019. Furthermore, she personally entered into a $10,000 contract with the fair’s “food vendor management” company for duties she already performed as the fair CEO, including “to direct and manage the annual fair, which includes securing the services of food vendors around the fairgrounds.” 

“Employee A used her position as an employee of the [Tulare County Fair] to secure her service contract with the company,” the audit stated.

As a parting gift, when Fyock left the Tulare County Fair to take over the Sacramento County Fair full time, she signed her final payout check for $118,598, according to the audit. This included 2,041 hours for vacation and leave time accrued between 2013-2019, which was 48 hours more than her annual accrual. Her accrual was also unverifiable as she did not keep attendance, vacation or leave records during her tenure with the fair. 

Other issues mentioned in the report were related to Fyock spending $9,205 of the fair’s funding on repairs for private vehicles involved in accidents with fair vehicles and equipment at the fairgrounds, $107,785 in payments for companies that did not have a contract or for which the fair did not have invoices, vendors were not issued IRS forms for amounts as high as $23,000, and using TC Fair funds to pay for insurance at the Sacramento Fairgrounds. 

The allegations against Fyock paying herself with fair funds was in addition to a long list of other findings for poor bookkeeping during her tenure in Tulare County. This includes classifying employees incorrectly and not enrolling them in the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), not retaining documentation for various contracts, failing to inventory its property and not reconciling its bank accounts.

TC Fair response
In its response to the findings dated Feb. 12, 2021, the Tulare County Fair said current staff has been unable to find the documentation and if Fyock does not provide the documentation the fair will seek full reimbursement of at least $130,000 in unverifiable expenses.

“Should Employee A refuse these options, the DAA will pursue all available legal remedies to collect these funds,” the audit response states.

The fair is awaiting direction from CDFA Legal on how to recoup the $10,000 paid to Fyock instead of the Fair for providing services to vendors. 

In order to ensure the issues do not happen again, TC Fair said it now requires two authorized people to sign for all checks over $10,000. The fair now has its own credit card and adopted a credit card policy in April 2020 prohibiting the use of personal credit cards outside of an emergency and disallowing reimbursements unless the employee produces an expense report signed by the director. It is now keeping daily attendance records on every employee, update them monthly, cap accrued leave at 640 hours before implementing a schedule for time off to reduce the unused leave and all employee leave must be pre-approved before it is paid out. 

Similar to the findings outlined in the Tulare County Fair audit, the Sacramento County Fair audit found Fyock had reimbursed herself for personal credit card payments from 2016-2020. Expenses included nearly $6,000 for a 36-night stay at a home in Sacramento to prepare for the 2020 Fair, even though it had been canceled due to COVID, incomplete mileage forms for trips between Tulare and Sacramento, and double counting some receipts. The audit also alleges Fyock ordered an employee to manipulate invoices from one year to a previous year and then destroyed them prior to the current audit.

In his response, Sacramento County Fair Board President Michael Albiani said his board had taken similar steps to Tulare County’s, such as obtaining a credit card and approving a policy for its use, implementing a new contracting and procurement policy, updating its inventory annually, writing and approving large sponsorship contracts separately, and is developing new accounting practices.

The 2022 Tulare County Fair is scheduled to run from Sept. 14-18.

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