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Hickory Daily Record file photo

An attorney for the Greater Hickory Jaycees said the group did not commit fraud in its reporting of Oktoberfest beer sales from 2018.

The denial from Blair Cody comes less than a month after Hickory Downtown Development Association president Julie Owens filed a fraud report with the Hickory Police Department.

Owens said an audit of the 2018 Oktoberfest indicated sales were underreported by more than $10,000.

The report does not name the subject or subjects of the investigation.

As of Wednesday, the Greater Hickory Jaycees — the organization that sold beer at Oktoberfest between 1985 and 2018 — has not heard from the police, according to a letter Cody sent the Hickory Daily Record.

Hickory police Capt. Jeff Young said the investigation is “active and ongoing.”

Young said the investigator is still gathering financial documents and has not reached out to the Jaycees.

In the letter, Cody challenges claims by Owens that the Jaycees were not transparent when it came to Oktoberfest finances.

Owens said the Jaycees did not allow members of the downtown association to be present while Oktoberfest proceeds were tallied.

Oktoberfest is the largest downtown event held annually in Hickory, drawing around 100,000 visitors, according to the downtown association.

Cody said in the letter that the contract between the downtown association and the Jaycees has allowed the downtown association to supervise the counting, as well as obtain financial records.

“There has not been a single occasion where the HDDA requested particular financial information/records and the Jaycees have not provided the same,” Cody said in the letter.

“No representative of the HDDA ever requested to be present for processing of proceeds/deposits.”

Cody said the organization has processed the payments at either the downtown association office or a police command center “for the past several years.”

The letter also points to the fact that the Jaycees declined to take part in Oktoberfest this year months before the police report was filed.

In June, the Jaycees decided not to sign the Oktoberfest contract to sell beer in 2019 because of changes the organization thought were unfair.

The changes included raising the Jaycees’ fee from 20 percent to 30 percent — and later negotiated to 27 percent — and requiring the Jaycees to hire an independent auditor.

Jaycees President Colleen Anderson said the auditor requirement was removed in a revised version of the contract.

Cody’s letter said the Jaycees “made a business decision not to service the 2019 Oktoberfest ... based solely on the changes to the contract as proposed by the HDDA.”

Owens declined additional comment Thursday on the Jaycees’ statement.

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Hickory Daily Record city reporter Email: kgriffin@hickoryrecord.com

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