Report from Public Corruption and Fraud Division raises concerns about improper bonuses for staff, excessive and poorly documented reimbursements for meals
JEFFERSON CITY, MO (STL.News) – Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway has released an audit looking into whistleblower allegations that public resources were misused by the St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The report, authorized by the county commission at the request of the Auditor, raised concerns about bonuses improperly paid to some employees of the office, as well excessive and poorly documented reimbursement for meals.
“I requested the authority for this audit after our Whistleblower Hotline received credible information about inappropriate spending of taxpayer dollars in the former prosecuting attorney’s office,” Auditor Galloway said. “Our report includes the details of bonuses awarded contrary to state law and excessive meal reimbursements. I am encouraged the current prosecuting attorney and the county commission have indicated these practices have stopped, so that taxpayer funds will be better used.”
The audit examined the period from January 2012 to December 2018, which was the tenure of former prosecuting attorney Jerrod Mahurin. During that time, Mahurin approved year-end payments totaling $21,400 for several employees of his office; such bonuses are prohibited by the Missouri Constitution. In addition, the audit found that time sheets and leave records were not completed for several assistant prosecuting attorneys, and that two of those assistant prosecuting attorneys also received compensation for doing private work on county time.
The audit also found that various employees of the office, including the prosecuting attorney, frequently violated the county’s reimbursement policy, and that many of the reimbursements did not appear to be prudent or necessary. Some meals reimbursed with taxpayer funds were purchased at restaurants at the Lake of the Ozarks for charges between $86 to $157. Auditor Galloway said there were some instances in which employees attending seminars were reimbursed for meals purchased at outside restaurants when a meal was provided already through seminar registration fees.
Other concerns in the audit were raised regarding an investigator taking home a county-owned vehicle without procedures in place to review and document the necessity and justification for use of the vehicle. The audit also said significant improvement was needed for accounting controls and procedures in the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, as well as better electronic data security.
The current prosecuting attorney, who took office on Jan. 1, said in her responses that she has or will undertake the recommendations given in the audit. County commissioners also have indicated they will follow through with the recommendations.