Audit: Oldham County Sheriff failed to record, deposit fees
Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon concluded that Sheriff Steve Sparrow’s office lacked “sufficient oversight and internal controls” and made unauthorized purchases on shoes, snacks and party supplies with public funds.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – For nearly two years, the Oldham County Sheriff’s Office failed to deposit or record cash it collected for accident reports, fingerprinting and concealed-carry photos, according to a state audit released Tuesday that identified more than $10,000 that wasn’t properly deposited.
Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon concluded that Sheriff Steve Sparrow’s office lacked “sufficient oversight and internal controls” and made unauthorized purchases on shoes, snacks and party supplies with public funds. The findings have been turned over to Attorney General Andy Beshear.
Harmon recommended that Sparrow pay $5,102 from his own pocket to make up a shortfall in a department account for routine fees. The deficit was caused by the department handling cash outside its bookkeeping system and bank account, auditors found.
They concluded that the sheriff's department didn't record or deposit the receipts "as a means to provide cash for expenditures that would be made outside the fee account, including expenditures for unallowable items."
Sparrow did not immediately return a phone message left Tuesday at his La Grange office. But his department did not contest Harmon’s findings in its response to the audit and said the account has been made whole, among other changes.
Even though auditors reviewed a period from October 2013 to July 2015, they determined that more receipts likely were unaccounted for before then. The sheriff’s bookkeeper told auditors that “all previous records for these transactions could not be located as it was a routine practice to destroy these receipt books at year end.”
“It is unclear how long the sheriff’s office has failed to deposit the funds intact,” the audit says.
Harmon’s office also found $4,607 in receipts from 2013 to 2015 for items that didn’t meet Kentucky policies for spending public funds. Those receipts included purchases for clothing and shoes, snacks, party supplies and floral arrangements.
There was no evidence that $41 spent on alcohol on a restaurant receipt was ever reimbursed; three credit card purchases didn’t include itemized restaurant receipts; and another credit card purchase had no “supporting documentation,” according to the audit.
Based on receipts, auditors determined that Sparrow waived a $10 fingerprinting fee for Oldham County residents and charged some people $10 for the concealed-carry photos until Harmon told the sheriff’s office that the “correct fee of $5 should be charged consistently to every taxpayer.”
Sparrow’s office said in the audit that it will obtain itemized receipts and not make unapproved purchases. It noted that Oldham County Fiscal Court now oversees spending from the account.
Sparrow, a Republican, was reelected in 2014 after winning 78 percent of the vote in the GOP primary, according to the Kentucky Board of Elections. He retired from the Oldham County Police Department in 1995 after a 20-year career, his biography says.
Harmon is a former Republican member of the Kentucky House of Representatives who was elected state Auditor last November.
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