Former sheriff responds to audit
posted Wednesday, February 13th, 2013 @ 3:19 pm
An audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, indicates the Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office (CPSO) failed to properly document credit card purchases at restaurants and that former Sheriff Randy Maxwell may have violated the state's nepotism law involving the employment of his daughter-in-law.
Prepared by the CPA firm of Silas Simmons of Natchez, the report, which was published on the Legislative Auditor's website on Monday, also addresses other alleged accounting errors that occurred during the final year of Maxwell's last term in office.
Current Sheriff Kenneth Hedrick took office on July 1, 2012.
Maxwell said Tuesday he "strongly disagreed" with many of the findings in the audit, including the nepotism issue.
"I wish Silas Simmons had given me the opportunity to respond to some of their concerns," Maxwell said, while adding that the "audit raises no questions about the misuse of funds or the misappropriation of funds."
The accounting firm reported that the sheriff's office may have violated the state's nepotism law when Maxwell employed his daughter-in-law, Jennifer Maxwell, who has since died. The report also says CPSO provided her two pay increases although she was unable to work due to illness.
Citing LSA-RS.42-119, the audit reported that "no member of the immediate family of an agency head shall be employed in his agency. During our audit it was noted that the daughter-in-law of Sheriff Randy Maxwell was employed by the Sheriff's office. This appears to be a violation of the Louisiana nepotism law.
"In this case; the daughter-in-law was on sick leave from approximately July 30, 2011, until approximately January 15, 2012. On August 8, 2011, the Sheriff authorized her an increase in pay of $2.84 per hour. On October 31, 2011, Sheriff Maxwell authorized her another increase in pay of $1.92 per hour. These increases in pay were given during a time period in which other employees of the Concordia Parish Sheriff apparently were not considered for pay increases."
Maxwell said "Jennifer was working at the sheriff's office for quite some time before she and Jason (Maxwell's son) were married. Other courthouse offices have similar situations. We checked that issue out completely."
Additionally, Silas Simmons reported it found that 54 credit card purchases amounting to $4,274 were not properly documented during the last fiscal year. The former sheriff was responsible for 27 of the purchases totaling $1,111 that were charged to local restaurants, auditors reported.
"The business purpose and the names of those who participated in the meals were not recorded on the credit card receipts," the report said.
"Meals purchased at local restaurants are generally not the same as purchasing meals while traveling out of town. Purchases made without a valid business purpose may be a violation of the Louisiana Constitution, Article VII Section 14, which prohibits the donation of public funds."
Maxwell said he was always "a stickler for receipts. We hadn't been required to document the purpose of every lunch meeting. I wasn't aware we had to do that. Our tickets have always been turned in for the past two decades. This is another thing I wish they (Silas Simmons) had given me an opportunity to respond to."
Another finding concerned compliance with the budget law.
Auditors reported that the sheriff had budgeted expenditures of $15,466,010 but actual expenditures of $17,110,207, a variance of 11 percent.
"LRS 30:1311 requires expenditures to be within 5% of the budgeted amount," the report says. "This appears to be a violation of that statute."
"We missed that on the budget," Maxwell said. "We did post another budget but we were late doing it. I accept responsibility for that."
Concerning taxes, auditors reported the tax collection department employees were not being supervised and trained and didn't know how to prepare bank reconciliations. It also reported that financial statements were not being reviewed.