Investigation links missing funds to former Lake County bookkeeper

Investigation links missing funds to former Lake County bookkeeper

Posted: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 6:47 pm
By: By EVAN JONES

The Messenger 09.15.10

By EVAN JONES
Special to The Messenger
A special investigation into the Lake County mayor’s office by the Department of Audit’s state comptroller has resulted in the discovery of $202,344.63 missing and alleges the source of the missing funds is the county mayor’s former bookkeeper.
The audit report alleges Kim Keeling, a former bookkeeper for the county mayor’s office, issued 191 vendor checks for that amount from Oct. 18, 2005, through July 26, 2010, “for personal use.”
Keeling was terminated July 29 by Lake County Mayor Macie Roberson.
The audit report indicates she cooperated with the investigators.
No other county official is implicated in the report, although the audit recommends Roberson and county court clerk JoAnn Mills should take immediate steps to develop “improved internal control procedures over the segregation of duties and the issuance of checks.”
Lake/Dyer District Attor-ney Phil Bivens said the evidence in the audit will be presented to the November session of the Lake County Grand Jury.
When the special investigation was complete, the results were reviewed with Roberson, the former bookkeeper and the district attorney general.
Roberson said the county was insured for $150,000.
Checks for the missing funds were written over a five-year period, with $13,323.11 in 2005-06; $25,244.90 in 2006-07; $47,318.83 in 2007-08; $56,678.04 in 2008-09; and $55,316.75 in 2009-10.
The audit report states the comptroller’s office was notified of possible irregularities in the Lake County mayor’s office on July 27.  
“The absence of adequate internal control procedures provided the opportunity for this cash shortage to occur,” the report states.
Among the recommendations made in the report were the county should seek restitution for the $202,344.63 cash shortage.
In his response to the audit, Roberson wrote:
“We will be offering our employees direct deposit for their checks. The bank, in return, for no additional charge, will give us a copy of the front and back of all checks. All checks will be reconciled in the county mayor’s office.
“Invoices will accompany all checks when presented to the county mayor and county clerk for signature.
“We are considering filing our documentation by vendor instead of by account number.
“I have already put our insurance carrier on notice and will try to recover funds from Ms. Keeling.”
Editor’s note: Evan Jones is editor of The Lake County Banner in Tiptonville.

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