Kentucky State Auditor Mike Harmon says Greenup County Sheriff Keith Cooper withdrew $12,300 from the drug enforcement account and did not maintain any documentation to support how the cash was used.
“The buys I make during these investigations are all in cash, and it is ludicrous to expect me to have receipts from these thugs,” Cooper responded. “I will be killed on the spot.”
Harmon released the audit of the 2015 financial statement of Greenup County Sheriff Keith Cooper Monday. State law requires the auditor to annually audit the accounts of each county sheriff. In compliance with the law, the auditor issues two sheriff’s reports each year: one reporting on the audit of the sheriff’s tax account, and the other reporting on the audit of the fee account used to operate the office.
According to the audit, the Sheriff has $12,471 of disallowed disbursements from the Special Enforcement Account and did not have adequate controls over the account. It goes on to say the sheriff did not maintain documentation to support receipts and disbursements of the drug enforcement account, which has resulted in $12,471 of disallowed disbursements.
“I have explained this on numerous occasions. I will not explain it again,” Cooper continued in his response. “I understand this is your job. I will continue to do mine.”
The specific problems noted in the audit were that the sheriff withdrew cash in the amount of $12,300 from the drug enforcement account and did not maintain any documentation to support how this cash was used; the sheriff wrote a check to an individual for $171 without supporting documentation and the sheriff did not maintain receipts and disbursements ledgers for the drug enforcement account.
The audit also determined the sheriff’s office lacks adequate segregation of duties. The sheriff’s bookkeeper collects payments from customers, prepares deposits, writes checks, posts transactions to the receipts ledger, posts checks to the disbursements ledger, and prepares monthly and quarterly reports.
“It is becoming more apparent every year that the Auditor’s Office is going to repeat the same things every time they examine our records,” Cooper said. “The primary problem is with the special enforcement account which has zero to do with what the Auditor’s Office typically examines, and is completely separate from any taxpayer funds. It is 100 percent generated from money seized and forfeited by dopers and is used to fund undercover investigations.”
The audit report goes on to say – “The sheriff did not personally reimburse disallowed expenditures from 2014 In the amount of $4,339. As reported in the 2014 audit, the sheriff spent $4,339 from his 2014 fee account that were disallowed. In Funk v. Milliken, 317 S.W.2d 499 (KY 1958), Kentucky’s highest court reaffirmed the rule that county fee officials’ expenditures of public funds will be allowed only if they are necessary, adequately documented, reasonable in amount, beneficial to the public, and not personal expenses. The sheriff spent $114 on newspaper advertisements that were not necessary disbursements to the office. Also, the sheriff did not maintain documentation of $4,225 of credit card purchases for hotel stays and online purchases. Without supporting documentation, auditors were unable to determine if purchases were for necessary disbursements of the sheriff’s office. We recommend the sheriff personally reimburse the 2014 fee account in the amount of $4,339 for these disallowed disbursements.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewisPDT.