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The Daily Ardmoreite
  • City focused on changes in wake of embezzlement investigation

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  • As the investigation into the embezzlement at HFV Wilson Community Center is ongoing, the City of Ardmore is committed to making changes, which will help deter future issues.
    City Manager J.D. Spohn said Ken Campbell, the city finance director, is developing changes designed to prevent a similar occurrence of embezzlement.
    "I've asked our finance director to work with the staff and implement a very comprehensive accounting system that provides proper documentation for the board to review," Spohn said.
    Spohn said changes could be made to other oversight boards on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether or not other issues arise. The areas that are being looked at in connection with the embezzlement investigation are credit card charges and the center's Paypal account. To compound the issues, former executive director Kurt Lemley was in charge of reporting the finances to the board.
    "For every charge, there is a receipt and that is what is missing there," Spohn said. "We have no verifiable proof what the charges are for. All of our department heads have a city credit card and they have to turn in receipts.
    "He just manipulated the system. We didn't know there wasn't a better system because the audits have turned out well."
    Lemley was employed at the HFV Wilson Community Center for 2-1/2 years and is the focal point of the investigation. He was put suspended from his job Aug. 14 and was terminated Aug. 20.
    "We caught it very quickly," Spohn said. "And we try to have very good checks and balances in place. An employee can manipulate the system or they can try if they think they will get away with it. When the supervisor we trusted to provide the checks and balances is the dishonest one, it makes it more difficult. They are in charge of the receipts and reports going to the board."
    Spohn said the volunteer board was at a disadvantage because it depended on the information provided by Lemley. An issue did surface during the special meeting Aug. 26 in regard to how often the board has met. It is mandated to meet six times a year and did not meet during the summer. Prior meetings were also canceled because there was no quorum.
    Spohn said he is appreciative of the volunteer's efforts to make time in their day to attend meetings and he does not believe the missed meetings were the reason for why the embezzlement happened. He added volunteers on the boards need to be cognizant of their commitments.
    "They voted not to have meetings during the summer and we are going to correct that," he said. "I can't stress how important oversight is. If an employee is intent on being dishonest, they are going to be dishonest. But it makes it makes it more difficult with oversight. That is why it is so important."
    Page 2 of 2 - Spohn said there are no other discrepancies that he is aware of and detectives are continuing the investigation.
    "They will make me aware if there are other problems," Spohn said.

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