Audit finds misuse of funds

Falsified mileage reimbursements, unauthorized fuel charges discovered

Former employees of two special service districts within Calcasieu Parish misappropriated public funds, according to a recent audit.

The audit, done by McElroy, Quirk and Burch, was released Monday on the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s website. It stated the former chief of Fire Protection District 1 of Ward 5 allegedly falsified about $1,900 in mileage reimbursement requests from July 2012 to 2017.

Willard White, fire protection district president, said the former chief, who was not named in the audit, falsified more than 40 requests, including monthly meetings he was supposed to be attending in Westlake. He said the employee only took “a small amount” of mileage reimbursements each time.

The employee has since resigned as chief, and no charges have been filed. The audit, done in late June, stated the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating the matter.

The fire district has “changed its policy and no longer pays mileage,” the audit reads. White said the district now pays a per diem for 911 calls or other incidents.

The audit also stated that a former Recreation District 1 of Ward 4 employee made about $1,401 in unauthorized fuel purchases last year using an unsecured fuel card. 

Chad Evans, recreation district director, said each maintenance vehicle had an assigned fuel card at the time. He said the district’s secretary discovered an employee was buying fuel at a local gas station after hours, sometimes “twice a night.” After watching surveillance video from the gas station, Edwards said he confirmed that a maintenance employee was making the purchases.

“I can’t give her enough credit for finding it,” Evans said of the secretary. “She’s the real hero.”

The employee has paid full restitution, according to the audit. Evans said the employee had worked for the district for “about a year.”

The audit states the district “has addressed internal control issues over storage and usage of fuel cards, and that “access to fuel cards are now limited.” 

Online: lla.la.gov

””Misuse of public fundsAmerican Press composite

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