“We are covered for employee dishonesty and we’re trying to file a claim on insurance. They will investigate it with their bonding agent to see if we can get that money from our insurance,” DTF Director Mike Adams said. “If they determine we don’t meet the criteria for them to reimburse us for that cash shortage, then each agency that participates in the DTF will pay an equal amount” to make up the deficiency.
The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office discovered the money was missing during an annual audit earlier this year. The DTF operates on a July 1 to June 30 fiscal year, and a report released last month revealed the problems centered around a now-fired administrative assistant and included irregular receipting and depositing of funds, improperly maintained records on seizures, inadequate documentation to support confidential expenses and possible time sheet violations.
Because of the findings for the 2011-12 fiscal year, the Comptroller’s Office extended its audit through January 2013, according to Adams and the report.
“It’s been turned over to District Attorney General Tony Clark for a review. I don’t know if he will turn it over to (the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) for an investigation,” Adams said.
The former administrative assistant had worked for the DTF since mid-2008.
“The employee was terminated Jan. 29. She had been placed on paid suspension” for suspicious time sheets, Adams said.
“We actually requested the auditors come in once she was put on suspension and it was time for them to do their annual audit anyway. (The employee) wasn’t under suspicion for taking money, it was for other things. When
the auditors came in that’s when they found the money missing.” Adams said.
Part of the assistant’s duties included overseeing petty cash and depositing seized funds to the Washington County trustee’s office. By state law, there is a three-day time limit to submit those funds, but the audit showed the assistant took up to three months to deposit that money.
Adams said more stringent measure are now in placed to ensure no other issues arise, and he anticipates the next audit — which will be from Feb. 1 to June 30 — will show no discrepancies.
“Pretty much everything resolved once she was fired,” he said. “We had ways of doing things that shouldn’t have been put in place. The administrative assistant wasn’t issuing receipts when the agents turned in cash. I’m doing that now, we have two people count the money and we make sure that’s turned over to the trustee’s office in three days and we get a receipt right then.”
Adams said some of the documents for confidential expenditures — such as money given to confidential informants for drug purchases during investigations — still haven’t been found. He thinks the former assistant could have taken those documents out of the DTF office.
“We were able to reproduce some original receipts, but were not able to find everything. Confidential informants are required to sign a receipt when they get money to conduct drug buys,” he said.
Those missing documents won’t compromise a confidential informant’s identity because the DTF assigns those people a code name and that’s the name they use to sign for the money, Adams said.
“I don’t believe any confidential information would be leaked,” he said.
Adams said there is a new office administrator in place now and he’s established new measures for more accountability.
“I’m rewriting all policies and procedures. A lot of them have not been updated since 2003 and some date back to the early and mid-1990s,” he said. “We’ve worked with the comptroller’s office” to remedy the problems. “I don’t think we’ll have any findings for rest of fiscal year. We’ve worked with comptrollers’ office to fix it.”