Local Politics

Audit: Official paid electric bill, bought stuff with Scotland town's money, with help from mom

Posted October 20, 2021 1:51 p.m. EDT

NC Flag, Legislative Building, Raleigh

— The former finance director for East Laurinburg improperly spent more than $11,000 on things like her home utility bills, with some assistance from her mother, according to a state audit released Wednesday.

East Laurinburg officials said they plan to pursue criminal charges against the former employee, who wasn't identified in the audit.

From February 2017 to February 2018, the finance director wrote 13 checks from the town's bank account, totaling $2,674, to pay the electric and water bills at her home and wrote another 28 checks and used a town gas card to spend a total of $8,542 on items auditors called "questionable," according to the audit.

Some of the checks had "supplies" or "petty cash" written on the memo line, but auditors weren't able to find any receipts, invoices or other documentation to support the expenses.

Most of the checks were co-signed by a town commissioner who happens to be the finance director's mother, according to the audit.

"I can’t tell you if she had receipts or not," the audit quoted the commissioner as telling investigators. "[She] was in charge of that, and I just took it for granted that that’s what it was."

The finance director was employed by East Laurinburg from December 2016 to March 2018, according to the audit.

The Scotland County town has a population of 300 and an annual budget of about $75,000. The improper spending caused the town's checking account to be overdrawn in August 2017 and again six months later, leading to $444 in bank fees, according to the audit.

The audit states there was simply no oversight for the finance director, noting East Laurinburg "does not have any written accounting policies and procedures." The town also has gone five years without a required annual financial audit after an outside auditor complained that he couldn't do the job until officials "got their books in order," according to the state audit.

Town officials didn't respond to the State Auditor's Office recommendations that they get a CPA to ensure their financial records are complete and accurate and that they complete the annual audits from 2017 through 2021 and do one every year moving forward.

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