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May 20, 2014

Former Vigo treasurer to repay some funds

State review finds no criminal act; County Council, Commissioners asking for $7,417 in bookkeeping error

TERRE HAUTE — Former Vigo County Treasurer David Crockett is to pay the county $7,417.65 under a resolution voted on and approved Tuesday by both the Vigo County Board of Commissioners and the Vigo County Council.

An investigation from the Indiana State Board of Accounts found a discrepancy of $26,105.81 between the county’s cash book and reconciled bank statements as of Dec. 31, 2012.

The Board of Accounts, in its audit, did not find evidence of a criminal act, but found inept bookkeeping and a lack of internal auditing controls.

County Attorney Michael Wright said neither the Board of Accounts or Vigo County employees who have reviewed financial records found “that any actual money was ever misappropriated or even existed on anything but the form which was being submitted to the State Board of Accounts for their review.”

The State Board of Accounts recommended the County Council and Board of Commissioners agree on a resolution of the issue.

The State Board of Accounts also recommended that Crockett not be asked to reimburse money for the discrepancy.

However, commissioners and the council voted to have Crockett repay interest on bank reconciliation statements. That interest was used to balance the county’s cash book.

Commissioners voted 3-0, while the council voted 6-1, with Councilman Mark Bird opposing.

“This is a very tough situation for the county to make any decisions like this; we always hope that this doesn’t happen,” said Judith Anderson, president of the Vigo County Board of Commissioners.

“Part of this was actual bookkeeping errors and part was money that had been switched from interest... to make the books balance. The treasurer was actually the responsible person for everyone in his office, not just this one, but any person in the office. That is the responsibility you hold when you are elected,” Anderson said.

The remaining $18,688.16 will be corrected through a ledger correction debit to the county’s cash book.

“It was a problem solely created by Karen Calloway,” Vigo County Treasurer Jim Bramble told the County Council of the former reconciliation clerk/deputy clerk. Bramble said he released Calloway when he assumed the office in January. The former clerk had worked for seven years under Crockett while he served as treasurer.

Calloway, reached by phone after the meeting, declined comment.

Crockett said he did not know accounting errors were being made while he was treasurer.

“The only thing I did was to believe an employee was doing their job,” Crockett told the council. “That is why you hire these people, is to do the job for you. I certainly had no idea that she the [former reconciliation clerk] was doing this. She never came to me for help. She never asked me for anything. I simply thought she was doing her job.

“Had I known and when I did find out that she was not doing her job, I did everything I could to try to correct it,” Crockett said. “I do not believe that there was any money missing. She just made so many errors that she could not correct them all.”

Vigo County Attorney Michael Wright presented the council with a May 5 letter from State Examiner Paul Joyce, who heads the State Board of Accounts.

“In our work performed, we interviewed the former bank reconciliation clerk/deputy clerk, as this was her job assignment during this time frame. After interviewing this person we concluded she did not fully understand how to perform her duties,” the letter from Joyce stated.

“She stated any amounts on the monthly bank reconcilement shown as ‘to be corrected’ were plugged amounts to reconcile and that she did not go back and try to find the differences because the county auditor’s office did not always advise her when a check was voided, a replacement check issued, or old outstanding checks were added back into the records,” the letter stated.

County Auditor Tim Seprodi said the auditor’s office provided “all the information [the reconciliation clerk] would have needed to properly perform her duties. She failed to utilize that. In 2003 a computer program was put in place to make the job easier and the auditor’s office paid for her training class, but she failed to utilize that. The auditor has provided her with the tools, but she failed anyway,” Seprodi said.

Bramble told the council that the situation was squarely in the treasurer’s office.

“The auditor’s office did not have anything to do with this. The responsibility for the problem lies solely at the treasurer’s office, not the auditor or the commissioners, no where else. I just want to make that clear,” Bramble said.

Bird, the sole dissenting vote among the council and commissioners, said he thought the full amount should be repaid or nothing. Bird said he does not think Crockett did any wrong. Bird said it would cost the county more than $200,000 to hire a separate accounting firm to find an accounting error of $26,000.

“There were mistakes made and he [Crockett] had to pay for a portion of it, but I still would like to do something to find that money. But, do we spend $200,000 to find $26,000, no,” Bird said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard. greninger@tribstar.com.

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