State audit finds mismanagement of funds within Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office

NORMAN, Okla. – A state audit has found mismanagement of funds within the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office.

The Oklahoma State Auditor & Inspector’s office released the audit on Monday.

"It was just not good internal controls,” said Gary Jones, the Oklahoma State Auditor & Inspector. "There was some inaccuracies in their record keeping. They hadn't been billing properly for the inmate, DOC, correct money there.”

One of the examples listed in the audit said "The Housing of Prisoners billing for the Department of Correction was not timely billed from September 2016 through March 2017, which totaled $243,837."

That’s not all.

"There were 40-something vehicles that had been purchased that had not been put on the insurance,” Jones said.

In addition to that, there was an additional 38 vehicles that are no longer in use and are still listed on the insurance policy.

"They also had not been doing a proper count of the inmates and their health care services, their provided charged them based on the number of people in jail,” Jones said.

That resulted in Cleveland County overpaying the provider $100,000.

Back in March, Sheriff Joe Lester sued the Board of County Commissioners and accused them of violating state law for failure to fund operations at the jail.

However, in the audit, the board chairman wrote "The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) concurs with the findings and recommendations of the OSAI office concerning Sheriff Lester’s violation of 19 O.S. § 682 and are gravely concerned about the apparent gross mismanagement and lack of internal controls over and segregation of duties with respect to collections by Sheriff Lester’s office.”

The sheriff responded in the audit, saying “The agency is following the recommendations provided by OSAI. Duties have been and/or are being segregated, controls have been put in place to mitigate risk to the agency and processes have been reviewed and examined.”

"In this day and age, we need to be watching every tax dollar, making sure we're spending it in a cost effective, efficient manner and making sure we're accounting for it,” Jones said.

We left a message with Lester’s attorney but have not heard back.