Audit: Director stole $111,000 from Carteret animal shelter
Posted March 16
Newport, N.C. — The former director of the Carteret County Humane Society and Animal Shelter embezzled more than $100,000 from the shelter by making personal purchases on the shelter's credit cards and misappropriating some of the shelter's cash receipts, according to a state audit released Thursday.
The State Auditor's Office has turned its findings over to the Carteret County District Attorney's Office to determine whether criminal charges should be filed in the case.
The former director, who was forced to resign last fall amid the state investigation, isn't named in the audit, but several news stories in recent years listed Candace Christopherson as shelter director.
More than $67,000 in unauthorized and questionable purchases were made with shelter credit cards between January 2014 and last July, according to the audit. The list includes the following purchases:
- Gas, cigarettes, cigars, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages, sodas, candy, snacks and other items from convenience stores
- Steaks, diapers, an Easy Bake Oven, capri pants, over-the-counter medications and other items from Walmart
- Dozens of meals at area restaurants
- $3,200 for her children's day care
- A $3,000 down payment on a Chevrolet Traverse SUV
- More than $11,000 on cellphone purchases and services
- More than $6,500 on personal auto insurance and car rentals
- Almost $6,000 on utilities, a storage unit and temporary living quarters at local motels.
Auditors also found that more than $44,000 in cash generated by the shelter's activities wasn't deposited in the organization's bank account between January 2015 and last September.
"A shelter employee said all cash collected was kept in a locked drawer in the former shelter director’s office. The employee added she would see cash in the locked drawer one day, and the next day it would be replaced with a 'sticky note' from the former shelter director indicating that she owed the shelter money," the audit states. "Another shelter employee stated she witnessed the former shelter director separating the cash from shelter sales receipts and placing the cash in her back pocket."
The former director couldn't explain the missing cash and didn't have receipts to document the purpose of her various purchases, according to the audit.
Auditors criticized the shelter for its lax fiscal controls, noting that the former director continued to charge personal items to shelter credit cards even after she resigned and that another $1,000 was stolen from the shelter's cash drawer last December when the new director was out of the office.
Mark Mansfield, chairman of the Carteret County Board of Commissioners, said the county now requires the shelter to submit monthly financial statements and a full annual audit to county officials in order to obtain county funding.