ROCHESTER — The former head of KSMQ, the Austin, Minn.-based public TV station that serves southeastern Minnesota, left his job earlier this year after a financial audit uncovered thousands of dollars in unexplained spending.

Eric Olson was hired in 2012 as president and CEO of the station. A TV veteran, he worked at KARE 11 from 1985 to 1997 as a reporter and anchor.

According to an audit report, KSMQ's board of directors put him on paid leave in December after fraud risk questionnaires pointed out potential credit card misuse. Independent auditors found he spent more than $49,000 on a KSMQ credit card from July 2021 to November 2022, with few receipts documenting expenses.

Olson allegedly spent more than $34,000 from July 2021 to July 2022 according to the report; backup receipts verified about 10% of those expenditures. Olson spent more than $15,000 from July to November 2022, with most of his purchases lacking documentation.

At the end of November, the board gave Olson two weeks to produce receipts and verify his spending was business-related. Olson later submitted a check for $901 for expenses he claimed were for personal charges.

"While there appears to be some portion of credit card charges that could be business deductions, backup receipts were not obtained," the report states. "It is also clear that more than the $901 reimbursed is not for the benefit of the organization. At this time, it is unclear what the total receivable will be from the CEO for personal charges not yet reimbursed."

Olson's LinkedIn profile indicates he left KSMQ in January. Attempts to reach Olson for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.

KSMQ Board Chair Miguel Garate declined to comment Thursday, citing personnel privacy issues. Interim Station Manager Robert Hartman said the board is meeting Thursday to put out a statement regarding Olson.

Olson's tenure at KSMQ includes hosting a variety of shows about southeastern Minnesota and moving the station to a newly constructed $5 million broadcast center last year.