Audit probes sheriff's office spending

On-going speculation regarding spending by the Wexford County Sheriff's Office was back on the table Monday night at the County Commission meeting.

Back in November, Wexford County Commissioners voted to do another audit on the Sheriff's Office, after an issue came up in 2010 regarding an alleged misuse of Animal Control funds.

The new forensic audit results were presented to the board Monday night, 7&4's Kate Fox was there and has the details.

The State Attorney General had also looked into this case back in February of 2011 and said that he found no criminal activity but county commissioners went on to hire a Troy-based audit company called the Rehmann Group, to lay out the numbers once and for all.

Director of Financial investigation for Rehmann Group William Edwards says, "Our investigation found no criminal activity, we didn't see anything related to fraud. Basically what we saw was a misappropriation of funds...from one fund to other."

The audit looked at several items, spanning from 2005 to 2009, like all expenditures $50 dollars or more and all credit card statements improperly charged to the Animal Control Department.

Edwards says, "Approximately $38,000 dollars misappropriate from animal control... review of credit card activity another $3,100, so a total of just over $41,000 dollars."

More than $41,000 dollars improperly charged to Animal Control -- items like computer services, car repairs, supplies and travel expenses. Edwards stresses that these discrepancies come down to sloppy book-keeping and poor documentation. Edwards says, "Any (no spelling suggestions), in any company, should be justified by appropriate documentation and in this case, especially with training, there was no indication of where training was. There was no indication of who sponsored training and no indication of what training was that was received."

The audit spells out a list of recommendations, a "how-to" plan to move forward. It mostly suggests just tightening-up the books, requiring more authorization and signing-off on all purchases.

While some commissioners questioned the audit, even sighting errors, the majority are looking to the future. They hope to use the recommendations to grow from this.

Wexford County Financial Chair Gideon Mitchell says, "If there is money that needs to pay back ... were going to pay it back.. as far as where we go from here I hope were able to establish policies... or they already be in placed... that need to be revised.. that's what we need to do set up new polices and move forward."

The County's Financial Committee will meet on Thursday -- and will review the audit in detail -- and then try to come up with a plan of action.

The Rehmann Group performed this audit, which cost Wexford County more than $30,000 dollars.