Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Auditors: Quarterly fraud review of Trustee's Office comes back 'clean'

When the Hanover Insurance Group in late July last year agreed to bond interim Knox County Trustee Craig Leuthold for a cool $55,000 (you can thank his predecessors for that one), officials with the company wanted to make sure no funny business was still going on in the tax collections office.

So, the county’s external auditor Pugh & Company since then have conducted a number of fraud interviews with office employees and checked spending accounts for any unusual activity.

Well, so far so good.

Larry Elmore, vice president of Pugh & Co., said during today’s Audit Committee that his folks checked into a number of issues during the final quarter of last year (ending in December) and the results came back “clean.”

Elmore said his operation randomly picked 25 people in the 40-member office and studied their payroll checks, time cards and key card entries into the building. They also met with employees in the Halls, Cedar Bluff and Death Star offices, to ask about potential suspicions of fraud.

That, too, came back clean.

Elmore said they’ll continue looking into the department quarterly through June (that means there should be two more reports), which is when the bond coverage for Leuthold expires.

At that point, it’s not known whether they company will charge $8,000 to $9,000, which is what it typically cost to bond someone, or if they’ll continue to gouge the county. Heh.

For his part, Leuthold, who wasn’t trustee when all sorts of suspected wrongdoings were going on, said: “We all understand the issues that have happened in the past. And we’re trying to  . . .  build the trust every day. We come in and we’re going to do everything right today . . . and if for now we need someone to verify that, then that’s what we’ll do.”

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