- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) - The former director of the Corn Palace tourist attraction in Mitchell allegedly misused more than $1,000 in gift cards.

A search warrant for Mark Schilling’s home and its supporting affidavit allege that he and his son-in-law made personal purchases in 2012 and 2013 using numerous gift cards donated to the Corn Palace by Cabela’s, The Daily Republic newspaper reported (https://bit.ly/1tHBIee ).

Authorities searched Schilling’s home last week as part of an ongoing probe by the state Division of Criminal Investigation and say they found at least one of the purchased items - a handgun valued at $463.

Schilling resigned in March at the request of Mayor Ken Tracy. A state audit concluded that Schilling mishandled money - routinely counting money from cash registers alone in his office, failing to keep proper financial records and misusing a city credit card on multiple occasions - though no evidence was uncovered that he took any funds. The Division of Criminal Investigation has since been looking into whether Schilling broke any laws.

Schilling, 49, told The Associated Press last spring that he didn’t think he had done anything wrong, but that he stepped down after 13 years as director because a change was in the city’s best interests. He didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment left at his home before working hours on Wednesday.



Schilling has still not been replaced as Corn Palace director. Tracy last week offered the job to local businessman Steve Koch, but Koch withdrew his name from consideration on Friday. Koch in 2002 was accused of misusing money from a family business - a felony - and pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge of petty theft. Tracy said he did not know if that played a role in Koch’s decision to withdraw. A home telephone listing for Koch is disconnected.

About 200,000 tourists each year visit the Corn Palace, which is undergoing a $7.2 million renovation.

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Information from: The Daily Republic, https://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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