Audit Finds $60,000 Missing In Coffey

An audit of the City of Coffey shows about $60,000 missing over a two year period.  The State Auditor’s office conducted the audit at the request of the prosecuting attorney.

The audit report states, over a two year period, the former city clerk failed to make deposits, received improper payroll payments, and falsified board minutes and various financial reports.  The State Auditor Nicole Galloway stated the audit “found a pattern of missing deposits, suspicious checks, and falsified minutes and financial reports, along with what can only be described as a shell game of moving money between various city accounts in order to avoid detection.” Auditor Galloway said. “All of this was compounded by minimal, and often non-existent, oversight by city officials.”

As Coffey city clerk from September 2015 to August 2017, Mary L. Browning was solely responsible for the financial accounting functions and records of the city. She was terminated on August 2 of last year.  And the audit found that, while clerk, Browning allegedly did not deposit almost $34,000 in utility payments, including $2,645 she credited to her own utility account.

The audit also found improper payroll checks totaling $24,634 were written to Browning from the city’s water and sewer bank accounts; payroll records also indicate she was overpaid an additional $1,556 because she entered in a different number of hours on the payroll report than what was recorded on her timesheets. Although city payroll checks require the signatures of both the mayor and the city clerk, members of the city’s Board of Aldermen indicated to the Auditor’s Office that the former mayor often signed blank checks in advance.

The audit cited lack of oversite as to why this went on unnoticed.  At this time no charges have been filed.

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