State: Agencies Violated Law Aimed At Curbing Theft
Agencies Required To Immediately Report Losses
Last Updated: 283 days ago
The Indiana State Board of Accounts said some agencies aren't following a law aimed at curbing the theft of tax dollars.
Under Public Law 117, which became effective July 1, 2011, local government units are required to immediately report losses, shortages or thefts of government funds and property to the State Board of Accounts.
But the Call 6 Investigators found the Pike Township Fire Department and Trustee's office did not immediately contact the State Board of Accounts about allegations two employees were using agency credit cards to gas up their personal vehicles.
Records reveal the unauthorized use went on for a year and half, and township officials became aware in May 2012.
The township notified the police about the alleged theft on July 17, weeks after the two employees were terminated.
The township did not contact the State Board of Accounts until after an inquiry from the Call 6 Investigators this week.
"I did not know the law regarding theft was changed in 2011," wrote Pike Township Trustee Lula Patton in an email to RTV6.
Patton declined to meet with RTV6 for an on-camera interview.
"I don't hold that as an argument (that they didn't know)," said Paul Joyce, Deputy State Examiner for the State Board of Accounts. "I personally don't take that as a legitimate excuse, and I won't accept that as an excuse whenever we go through it."
Joyce said SBOA distributes quarterly bulletins, notifying local government about changes in the law, and the bulletins are also available online.
"You can't make them read them," said Joyce. "We offer annual training we hope they'll come to."
Joyce said records show Trustee Lula Patton did not attend the 2011 training, in which the State Board of Accounts discussed the law change.
The State Board of Accounts audits the financial statements of all government units in the state including cities, towns, townships, counties and libraries.
SBOA pushed for the law because it allows them to determine if there's a pattern in types of theft across the state.
"We can look at it from the whole standpoint and develop a control to stop that activity from happening," said Joyce.
The State Board of Accounts can also forward cases to the local prosecutor, who will review possible criminal charges, as well as to the Attorney General, who can help recoup the money lost to the taxpayers.
This week, Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox announced Detective Tevis McLaughlin was suspended for falsifying his gas mileage logs.
"This all stems from Tevis trying to hide the amount of miles he was driving off-duty in an attempt to avoid having to put fuel in his vehicle that he used on his part-time job," read a statement from Cox.
Records show the sheriff's office knew about the allegations in March 2012, but did not notify the State Board of Accounts until the Call 6 Investigators inquired this week why they had not followed the law.
"I was not familiar with that requirement," wrote Cox in an email to RTV6. "We have reported to State Board of Accounts and I am in a meeting in Indianapolis where Tammy (State Board of Accounts employee) just spoke and brought this issue to all the sheriffs' attention. We are all now clear."
The State Board of Accounts said while many communities prefer to handle things internally, it's now the law to report allegations of theft to SBOA.
"We don't establish the guidelines to make business harder for the individuals," said Joyce. "It's an avenue we can use to make their government a better place to live for their people."
The State Board of Accounts plans to review both the Pike Township and Johnson County cases.
While there's no direct penalty for government agencies that fail to report theft, the local prosecutor can take it into consideration as they're reviewing the case.
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