Thursday, July 27, 2006

CITY: MUNI COURT THEFT AT LEAST $1 MILLION

This is, to say the least, not good news for the City of Springfield. An administrative investigation into missing monies in the municipal-court system shows at least $1 million -- and maybe $1.2 million -- missing over the past six years. According to a city news release:
One Municipal Court employee was terminated during the administrative investigation and a second employee resigned. The Investigative Committee, comprised of four department heads, and led by City Manager Bob Cumley and Assistant City Manager Evelyn Honea, determined that no other disciplinary actions would be taken against any other City employees.

Specific recommendations for the Municipal Judge and Finance Director address future actions. In particular, the Finance Department is already in the process of auditing every area where cash is collected and handled within the City. All Department Heads also are reviewing controls and processes in place in their departments, although many departments do not handle any significant amounts of cash in their day-to-day operations.

The report states that possible restitution options are being pursued, including partial recovery through the City’s insurance policy on bonded employees. The criminal investigation is ongoing and no timetable is set for its completion.
The city's insurance policies only allow for up to $200,000 recovery, less a $2,500 deductible.

18 comments:

The Libertarian Guy said...

Ron,

Still think the McCaskill's office audit isn't such a good idea? ;)

Ron Davis said...

Lib Guy:

Yes, I have not changed my mind regarding the audit. Are much stronger oversights needed for muni court? No duh. Does that mean there needs to be an audit of the city? No.

MrsThurstonHowell said...

Are there any speculations out there that more heads will role? Man, that's a hunk of change!

The Libertarian Guy said...

Where there's smoke, Ron. The city blows a hundred large on KPMG "audits", and THEY didn't find this? Surely, there's more.

Besides, wouldn't this make a dandy McCaskill campaign feather-in-the-cap? Find some discrepancies (there HAVE to be others), it covers the $80K cost easy.

Methinks yer just mad 'cause VDJ made it an issue this AM. ;)

No, seriously... we're gonna push on this, make it a campaign issue (all of we LP candidates, and as a party), b/c this strikes at the issue of *accountability*. If this goes back farther than the year 2K, and they're talking (from the papers' article) about expanding it to 1997... it's not just about the Municipal Court funds, IMO. And McCaskill's office should be able to find enough to justify the cost.

In closing... maybe Spfd should hire someone other than KPMG.

Ron Davis said...

Lib Guy:

"Where there's smoke" and "there HAVE to be others" are two of the flimsiest excuses a human can make. Such innuendo is usually spouted by overreaching government officials with a dull axe to grind. But you already knew that.

John Stone said...

I'm beginning to change my mind on the audit. There didn't seem to be any reason for it before, but man, that is one hunk of change to get lifted and not caught. The internal controls outlined in the paper this morning (sketchy, I'm sure) show me a great big glaring hole ... and I don't know squat about this subject. The key is that there was not check and balance between the cash receipts, and the deposit slip returned to the finance department. The role of the internal person at MC, looks to me to be the weak link that gave an illusion of control and was in a position to do something flakey and cover it.

While I can't think of any other department, except perhaps the police department that handles enough money and stuff to justify an audit, without a CPA at the helm, it looks like we may need to spend the money to make sure that everything else is on the up-and-up.

The Libertarian Guy said...

Um, Ron... we're not government officials. Doug Burlison didn't win a City Council seat; the audit was part of his platform.

I'll bet you $3.50 the proper audit will find enough to cover the cost of said audit. Double-or-nothing it finds enough waste/mismanagement to cover TWO audits. That's roughly $160K worth of waste. You in?

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind this is the same City of Springfield that plans to build a $680 Million power plant all on borrowed money. If they can't take care of their Municiapal Court money and not know a Million is missing, how in the world are they capable of handling any city funds. This outfit needs to be replaced, and the first one that should go is the top, City Manager! Then audit the whole place down to the petty cash fund and the stamp drawer. I only sign as Anonymous because its too damn much trouble and difficult to constantly sign in to these blogs.
Drust

John Stone said...

Perhaps Ronbo can give me an answer: I have always understood that monies comming in from fines etc. didn't go to the city (that would be a very bad idea, and lead to polie corruption, and MC is pretty much a kangeroo court as it is), but went to R-12. Therefore they also have a vested interest in accountability in MC. Where the heck were they? Did they just take whatever was given to them, say thanks and forget about it?

The Libertarian Guy said...

I really don't understand the reluctance on the part of some, for the State audit. It can't be the cost - eighty grand is roughly three hours out of a years' budget for Springfield. Only a closet fiscal conservative would be upset by that. ;) OTOH, a true fiscal conservative would want a better financial-health picture, and we're not getting the whole picture from KPMG's audits.

mit said...

I'm not at all sure on whether or not R-12 gets any dough out of the MC but, the District hasn't been all that fiscally responsible or dependable themselves. Wasn't it just a couple of years ago when they misplaced and then discovered a few million $ they'd forgotten about? If they can't keep track of their own money, why give 'em more?

Anonymous said...

Ron,

This is really topping the icing on the cake. Everyday people are thrown in jail, placed on probation, ordered to pay fines, and some of the people are plain poor. I realize there has to be penalties for bad behavior, so what will be the penalty for these illustrious individuals who believe they are above the law. A slap on the wrist, while thier subjects of theft sit in jail?Another degrading story for the Ozarks. Not where's the beef, but where's the integrity, justice and honesty? What are they teaching our children?

John Stone said...

Just as a note: I have a call into the PR office (one of your old coworkers at the paper) at R-12.

If he gives me a call-back I will play citizen journalist and ask him some questions and report them over at my place later.

Anonymous said...

Municipal Court fines and fees go to the city's General Revenue, not R-12.

The Newtster said...

I wouldn't trust McCaskill to find loose change in a washing machine. Especially a washing machine in a nursing home.

The Libertarian Guy said...

Well, if we're going to get a real audit, it'll have to be from her office, otherwise we'll have to go through the petition thing again - unless her successor wants to make an example of Springfield as his first act of office...

After all, that's what a State Auditor is SUPPOSED to do... in theory.

The Libertarian Guy said...

Okay, unscientific poll results from yesterday, News-Leader online:

Online Poll
Would you support a state audit of the city of Springfield?

96.1%
Yes
3.9%
No

Total Votes: 539

Either most/all of those who said "yes" are fools, or they aren't.

Bet you an even ten bucks it happens, Ron. Double-or-nothing it more than pays for itself. And tellya what - if I lose, I'll put a Hillary sticker on my car. Just to sweeten the pot. ;)

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