DiNapoli: Audit Finds Former Sodus Town Clerk
Embezzled Approximately $50,000 Over Eight Years
An audit released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli found that the former Sodus town clerk embezzled approximately $50,000 during the past eight years. The former clerk stole cash from the town’s safe at night and altered bank deposit slips to hide the losses, DiNapoli said.
“Someone has to keep a closer eye on taxpayer dollars in Sodus,” DiNapoli said. “Eight years of fraud is eight years too much. The town board must have systems in place to protect taxpayer dollars. When public officials steal, taxpayers pay the price. And taxpayers just can’t afford it.”
The audit covered the period January 1, 2008 to September 28, 2009.
DiNapoli’s audit found that the board’s examination of the clerk’s activities was limited to a review of her monthly and annual reports and did not include an examination of the books, records, cancelled checks and check images. This created significant risk that resulted in a cash deficiency of more than $50,000 during the audit period.
Auditors from DiNapoli’s office also found that when collecting taxes, water rents and clerk fees, the clerk took some of the cash payments and used the interest and penalties paid by others to cover the amounts taken.
In addition, DiNapoli’s auditors noted that the board did not establish adequate policies and procedures to safeguard computerized data and assets. Town officials and employees had full access to all financial applications. DiNapoli said it’s important that user access rights to computerized financial applications be based on the needs of particular job duties.
DiNapoli recommended the board and current clerk:
- Take appropriate action to recover town monies from the former town clerk;
- Adequately support and deposit all monies received into the proper accounts intact and in a timely fashion;
- Reconcile accounts on a monthly basis and analyze and reconcile available cash with liabilities;
- Perform or contract for a thorough annual examination of the town clerk’s financial operations; and
- Adopt information technology policies and procedures that address user access rights.
Town officials generally agreed with DiNapoli’s recommendations, and plan to take corrective action.
In March 2010, DiNapoli proposed legislation to strengthen municipal ethics laws after he identified widespread disparities in how local governments oversee financial disclosure rules and enforce ethics requirements. Comptroller DiNapoli also released a model code of ethics for local governments.
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