Auditor Accused Of Misusing County Money

Audit: Auditor Charged Personal Expenses To County Cards

Some are calling for the resignation of Monroe County Auditor Amy Gerstman after a State Board of Accounts audit revealed she used county credit cards to charge thousands of dollars in personal expenses.

Gerstman, whose term is up Dec. 31, is accused of using numerous accounts to make personal purchases, including a $2,600 trip to New York.

When questioned about the purchases, Gerstman reimbursed the county for the expenses, but has not stepped down from her elected position, officials told Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney.

State auditors are demanding Gerstman repay $3,600 to the county for costs it incurred obtaining credit card statements she should have retained.

The Indiana Attorney General's Office plans to send demand letters to Gerstman, and if she does not pay, the office will consider filing a civil suit to recoup funds on behalf of the taxpayers.

Under Indiana law, elected officials can't be forced out of office unless they are convicted of a felony.

The State Board of Accounts forwarded its findings to the Monroe County Prosecutor's Office. Officials did not return numerous calls from RTV6 Friday.

"It's not fair to the public," said Mary Hawk, R-Monroe County Council, who requested the State Board of Accounts audit when she suspected misuse. "The auditor is the one supposed to be looking at these dollars and the bills, and we can't trust that to be happening."

Hawk said it's likely a special prosecutor would be selected to determine if the auditor should be charged with a crime, such as fraud or official misconduct.

"Taxpayers want to believe they can trust the people they've elected, and they no longer can believe that, and that's just not right," Hawk said.

Gerstman is currently receiving an annual salary of $53,778, plus benefits. She was not in the office when Kenney stopped by Friday, and she did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The State Board of Accounts also found the Monroe County Board of Commissioners ignored its own policy requiring all elected officials and department heads to "apply to the Commissioner's Office for issuance of a credit card in the name of such department of office," the report read. "No list of County approved credit cards was presented for audit." "County commissioners were supposed to be keeping track of who had a credit card," said Hawk. "If they had been following their own policy, this would not have happened."

County Commissioner Mark Stoops told RTV6 that he was unaware credit cards were being misused.

"The commissioners get millions of dollars in claims passed through every month," Stoops said. "We were not getting any of the personal claims on the credit cards, so we didn't see those pass through the commissioners and, of course, that is something that would have raised a red flag. "

Stoops said the county has have since improved its credit card policies.

"The main concern we had was to make sure this didn't happen again," Stoops said. "We actually canceled all of our cards and then created a new system where all cards are issued under the county commissioners so that we can review all statements."

Stoops told RTV6 he did not think the credit card abuse was widespread.

Stoops said Gerstman should not keep her job, and said that he did not believe she was running for re-election.

The State Board of Accounts audit also questioned personal expenses charged by the former county Human Resources Director Rhonda Foster, who resigned in January 2012 amid the controversy. Stoops said Foster has paid the money back.

More Information: Monroe County Audit

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