Leader Blues

Monday, December 14, 2009

TOP STORY >> Probe follows audit

Leader senior staff writer

The State Police are investigating a two-time unsuccessful candidate for the Lonoke County clerk’s office in connection with the misappropriation of $67,244 from the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office, according to county Prosecutor Will Feland.

The funds were found to be missing during a routine audit by the state Bureau of Legislative Audit, which sent copies of its findings to the prosecutor and county officials last week and reported its findings Friday morning to the state Legislative Audit Committee.

“Sheriff’s office bookkeeper Cassandra Pitts, custodian of bond and fine funds, was responsible for the receipting, depositing and recording process for these funds,” according to the report, authored by June M. Barron, deputy legislative auditor.

“Ms. Pitts, whose employment terminated October 29, 2009, was custodian of misappropriated funds totaling $67,224.”

“Procedures should be implemented to ensure all bond and fine receipts are not duplicated and are recorded and deposited in the bank account. Someone independent of the receipting and depositing process should review receipts and reconcile the bank account to accounting records.”

The sheriff’s office has purchased computer software to more closely monitor the process.

“The report has been forwarded to the prosecuting attorney,” according to Barron.

Although the report covers the calendar year 2008, the funds in question were audited through Aug. 19, 2009, she said.

“We just got their file and we’ve asked the State Police to conduct an investigation,” Feland said.

County Judge Charlie Trout-man said the county is bonded, but that the bond payment could depend upon a conviction.

“She ran for county clerk on the Republican ticket two times,” Troutman noted.

“Our audit procedures indicated that the offices of county judge, treasurer, tax collector, county clerk, circuit clerk and librarian were in substantial compliance with Arkansas fiscal and financial laws,” according to Barron’s report.

“Noncompliance with state law and accepted accounting practices was noted in the Office of Sheriff.”