(The Center Square) — A narcotics seizure account for the East Baton Rouge District Attorney lost more than $30,000 through fabricated checks last November, according to a recent audit.
The Louisiana Legislative Auditor last week posted a contracted financial audit of the District Attorney for the 19th Judicial District that examined finances and controls for 2022 that revealed a significant finding.
“In November 2022, eleven checks, drawn on the District Attorney’s Narcotics Seizure account, were fabricated using check numbers that had previously been used,” auditors wrote. “The eleven checks that were fabricated totaled $46,081.21, of which one check for $4,999.99 was not allowed to clear the bank, two checks totaling $10,696 were reversed by the bank.”
The result was a net unresolved theft of $30,385.22, which has yet to be recovered.
“The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office completed an investigation that was inconclusive,” auditors wrote. “The District Attorney’s bank sent hold harmless agreements to banks where the remaining checks were negotiated attempting to and requesting that the funds be returned.”
Auditors recommended the district attorney continue to work to recover the funds, and to explore available methods of security with its financial institution.
Management at the district attorney’s office, headed by Hillar Moore, told auditors the office “has pursued and implemented other available methods of security with its financial institution, (i.e., Positive Pay) to address the matter,” according to the report.
“Management will continue to monitor for additional security needs and will continue to take the appropriate measures to address those needs, if any,” management’s response read.
A review of the district attorney’s policies and procedures for budgeting, purchasing, disbursements, receipts and collections, payroll and personnel, contracting, credit cards, travel expenses, debt service, and other matters mostly resulted in no exceptions noted.
The district attorney provided a correction action plan for a few issues with documenting bank reconciliations greater than 12 months old, bonding employees who have access to cash, and non-payroll disbursements.
For bank reconciliations, the district attorney promised to implement new documentation standards by the end of September. The district attorney also adopted policies and procedures to annually assess the volume and risk of employees with access to cash who are not bonded or covered by the office’s insurance policy.
The district attorney adopted similar annual risk assessment policies for non-payroll disbursements and mitigating controls “to determine the need to implement a formal purchase order system and/or shift responsibilities to segregate duties further,” the audit read.