Audit of Ray County by Missouri State Auditor uncovers missing money and questionable purchases

Audit Graphic

An audit released by State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick gives Ray County a rating of “poor” and identifies nearly $3,000 in missing money, as well as more than $5,500 in questionable purchases made by the Ray County Sheriff’s Office including beer, cigarettes, and 76 hams. The report, which was a regularly scheduled audit of the county, also calls for improvements to controls and procedures in both the Ray County Sheriff’s Office and the Ray County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

“The audit was able to identify several key areas that need improvement in order to ensure the county government is more accountable to the taxpayers of Ray County. Specifically, the missing money and several questionable purchases made by the previous administration in the Ray County Sheriff’s Office make it clear that office needed significant improvements to its accounting procedures to ensure taxpayer dollars aren’t mismanaged or stolen,” said Auditor Fitzpatrick. “I’m glad to see county officials and the current Sheriff have responded positively to our findings and I encourage them to continue working to implement the audit recommendations that will make their government more efficient and effective.”

Within the Ray County Sheriff’s Office from 2018 through 2020, the audit found office personnel did not transmit $2,549 in concealed carry weapon permit fees and $443 in sex offender registry fees to the County Treasurer. The funds that are currently missing happened under the administration of the previous Sheriff. The audit recommends the current Sheriff work with the County Commission and other law enforcement officials to investigate the missing money and take necessary actions to seek restitution.

Another finding related to the Sheriff’s Office notes that under the previous administration, the office spent at least $5,543 on unsupported and/or questionable purchases with commissary account funds. The total includes the purchase of 15 televisions on a Walmart credit card for the amount of $1,770, as well as $850 in questionable purchases of items such as cigarettes, beer, a toy, personal grooming tools, barbeque seasoning rubs, and lotion and other beauty items. The report also notes the questionable purchase of 76 hams for a total of $1,736. The audit recommends the office require adequate supporting documentation for all disbursements and ensure all disbursements are necessary and prudent uses of public funds.

The audit also notes the Ray County Sheriff’s Office needs significant improvements with its controls and procedures, including adequate segregation of accounting duties and better procedures for receipting, recording, depositing, and transmitting money. Additionally, the office did not retain many financial records and failed to pay bills in a timely fashion or properly monitor bank account balances. The Sheriff’s Office incurred late fees and finance charges totaling $409 in 2020 due to untimely credit card payments and incurred $140 in bank overdraft fees in 2021. The audit also found the Sheriff’s Office does not charge sales tax on commissary sales of electronic cigarettes and certain hygiene products and remit them to the Department of Revenue.

Additionally, the audit recommends improved controls and procedures in the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The audit found the office does not have adequately segregated accounting duties or documented supervisory reviews. The office also needs to improve its procedures for receipting, recording, and depositing money, as well as its procedures for reconciling bank accounts. In addition, the audit found the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office did not disburse restitution payments to victims in a timely fashion.

Other findings in the audit highlight inadequate compliance with the Sunshine Law by the County Commission and a failure by county officials to consistently follow personnel policies. Several findings in the audit are recurring issues that were identified in previous audits. Ray County was last audited in July 2015. That report gave the county a rating of “fair.”

A complete copy of the current audit is available by clicking or tapping this link.