Investigative audit of Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office shows financial mismanagement

Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office

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OKLAHOMA COUNTY, Okla.  – An investigative audit of the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office was released Tuesday, showing financial mismanagement in the department.

District Attorney David Prater requested the audit in March 2016.

In the request, he outlined seven focus areas of concern with the department, including Sheriff John Whetsel himself.

The DA asked that an auditor investigate the use of funds by the sheriff and/or his department.

The audit showed the sheriff’s office intentionally stopped paying the medial provider, even though the office had the funds to pay the balance.

It also showed that previous fiscal years were paid with subsequent year funds, which violates that law.

According to the audit, the sheriff’s office also spent approximately $900,000 on vehicles during a time when other financial obligations were not being met.

The sheriff’s office also reportedly accepted a donation of Sheriff’s Whetsel’s personal vehicle, after a $28,000 payment was made to his spouse’s trust.

(See more on the audit’s findings below.)

The findings of the audit will be presented to Prater, who will decide whether or not charges will be filed.

Sheriff Whetsel has not commented on the findings at this time.

The following is a list of objectives and findings the district attorney’s office requested be investigated:

  • Objective 1: Determine whether the Oklahoma County Sheriff and or his administrative staff created debt by entering into contracts with vendors or service providers, failing to encumber sufficient funds and then willfully refusing to pay those contracts with available appropriations or special revenue funds.
    • Summary of findings:
      • Inmate healthcare contracts entered into by the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s office created debt obligated for payment by the County.
      • Contracts entered into with Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc. were not fully encumbered at the time the contracts were let.
      • It appears the Sheriff chose not to pay the Armor contract even though funds were available at the time payment was due.
  • Objective 2: Determine whether the Oklahoma County Sheriff and or his administrative staff paid outstanding debt or contract balances for a specific fiscal year with subsequent fiscal year funds.
    • Summary of findings:
      • Obligations of previous fiscal years were paid with subsequent year funds in violation of law.
      • The County’s contract with Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc. included a clause allowing payment for up to 270 days following the fiscal year end in violation of law.
  • Objective 3: Determine whether the Oklahoma County Sheriff and or his administrative staff created a debt by expending more funds than were available to expend through general fund appropriations or any other special revenue source.
    • Summary of findings:
      • A debt was created by entering into the contract with Armor and not paying invoices with current available funds. While funds were available to pay the contract, they were not encumbered and a choice was made to not pay the debt from available funds.
      • It appears unallowable costs may have been charged against the ‘Aggregate Limit’ of the Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc. contract.
      •  All required communications were not provided to Oklahoma County as required by the Armor contract.
  • Objective 4: Determine whether the Oklahoma County Sheriff and or his administrative staff have provided false or misleading information to the Oklahoma County District Court in their request to the Court to set per diem rates for County inmates. You should consider whether costs or expenditure figures were accurate and whether inappropriate items were included in the jail operation costs or if required offsets were omitted from the reported jail operation costs.
    • Summary of findings:
      • FY2015 financial data utilized in the calculation of the 2016 inmate average daily rate of incarceration included unallowable costs.
      •  Some revenues generated from detention facility operations were not used to offset direct cost used in the daily incarceration rate calculations.
      • In lieu of utilizing the average daily cost of incarceration rate provided by the Sheriff’s Office, the final incarceration rate for 2016 was determined by Administrative Order of the Court.
      • Inmate incarceration fees are invoiced and collected by the Sheriff’s Office, instead of through the Court Clerk’s office, which appears to be contrary to statute.
  • Objective 5: Determine whether the Sheriff and or his administrative staff deposits all special revenue funds in statutorily approved accounts. The source of all special revenue should be identified and income amounts should be confirmed.
    • Summary of findings:
      • HOPE Team and FOP Lodge #155 activities are managed by Sheriff Office employees during County work hours.
      • Donations received by the County Sheriff’s office were deposited into the Sheriff’s Special Revenue Fund, but were not presented and accepted in an open Board of County Commissioners meeting as required by law.
      • Inmate amounts invoiced by the Sheriff’s Office did not agree to inmate amounts paid by the Department of Corrections.
  • Objective 6: Determine whether the Sheriff and or his administrative staff expended all sources of funding in a lawful manner.
    • Summary of findings:
      • This objective requested a determination as to whether the Sheriff’s Office expended all funds in a lawful manner. As discussed in other areas of this report, all funds were not expended in a lawful manner. Prior year expenses were paid with current year funds, expenses were not timely encumbered, contract amounts were paid in question, and prior year obligations remained unpaid.
      • Also, as previously discussed, contracts were entered into and debt was incurred that was not paid in a timely manner. Previously incurred liabilities should have been considered for payment before incurring any additional obligations.
  • Objective 7: Determine whether there is any relationship between individuals granted a Special or Reserve Deputy position and campaign contributions made by the individual to the Sheriff’s campaign fund. Please include in your inquiry any monetary or in-kind donation made to the Sheriff’s campaign or the Sheriff’s Office. Determine the costs of the Special or Reserve Deputy program, including, but not limited to vehicle costs and vehicle maintenance costs, equipment and uniform costs, etc.
    • Summary of findings:
      • For the FY2015, the Oklahoma County Reserve Deputy program cost an estimated $263,855.39.
      • The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office Fleet Center performs work for outside agencies that has not been approved by the Board of County Commissioners and without the proper inter-local agreements in place.
      • The Law Enforcement Training Facility maintained by the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office was utilized for activities that are in violation of the agreed upon terms of the lease agreement and that were not properly approved by the Board of County Commissioners.
      • The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office accepted a donation of Sheriff Whetsel’s personal vehicle, after a $28,000 payment was made to Sheriff Whetsel’s spouses’ Trust. The donation of the vehicle was not approved by the Board of County Commissioners.
      • Two vehicle donations made to the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office were not handled in a proper manner and were not properly approved by the Board of County Commissioners.
      • In our review of Reserve Deputy payroll, we noted one employee was coded as a Part-Time Reserve Deputy from January 2016 through March 2016 in error.

Click here to read the full investigative audit.

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