State auditors cite sheriff

Published 11:20 pm Thursday, June 9, 2016

Sheriff: We’re implementing changes

A recent audit of the Covington County Sheriff’s Department cited Sheriff Dennis Meeks for nine new violations and four old violations, but the sheriff says he and his department are working hard to correct those citations.



The audit, which was released recently by the State Department of Public Accounts, covered transactions from March 1, 2012 , through June 30, 2015.

It outlined nine findings:

• The first relates to failing to maintain cash books for each fund. “With the exception of the Law Enforcement Fund, a cashbook was not maintained for any of the sheriff’s funds. Additionally, the cashbook for the Law Enforcement Fund was inaccurate. Auditors recommended that an accurate cashbook be kept for all funds.

• The second relates to failing to deposit funds in a timely manner. The recommendation from auditors is for deposits to be made in a timely manner.

• Finding No. 3 relates to failure to properly calculate work release wages. Of each inmate’s earnings, 25 percent of gross wages is required to be applied to the costs of the inmate’s time in jail. The remainder of the wages is to be credited to their account and paid out as requested by the inmate. Auditors found that for several months during the examination period, that 25 percent of the inmate’s gross wages was not correctly applied to the costs of the inmate’s confinement due to clerical errors, miscalculations and retaining 25 percent of net wages instead of gross wages. Auditors recommended that the amounts be applied to the costs of the inmates’ confinement should accurately be calculated and distributed properly.

• Finding four relates to the failure to provide adequate documentation for disbursements. Supporting documentation was not maintained for all transactions of the inmate trust fund and auditors were not able to determine if all transaction were recorded properly and timely. Auditors suggested that the department maintain supporting documentation for disbursements.

• Finding No. 5 relates to the failure to reconcile the prisoners’ money on deposit and inmate trust fund accounts to the prison money on deposit listing, the resident balance report and the bank statement. According to the audit, cashbook balances were not available to be reconciled to the prisoners’ money on deposit listing, the resident balance report or bank balances for inmate trust fund or the prisoner’s money on deposit fund. As a result, discrepancies were noted. However, they were settled at the conclusion of the examination.

• Finding six related to the failure to account for the work release fund in the proper bank account throughout the examination period. For several months during the period, work release activity was processed in the prisoner money on deposit bank account instead of the work release bank account. This resulted in differences between the work release account and the prisoner money on deposit account. Differences were settled at the end of the examination.

• Finding seven relates to the failure to make receipt books available for review. With the exception of the sex offender registration fees, auditors said it appears that money collected was not receipted. No receipt books for the general office fund, prisoners money on deposit fund or law enforcement fund were made available for review.

• Finding eight relates to the failure to properly receipt, deposit, and remit sex offender registration fees to the Covington County Commission. Sex offenders are required by laws to pay a quarterly registration fee of $10 to the registering agency to be deposited in the county general fund and earmarked for use by the county sheriff to be used for any law enforcement purpose related to sex offender registration, tracking, notification, etc. Auditors found that sex offender registration fees were not deposited into the sheriff’s bank account. Amounts totaling $3,230 were kept in a safe in the sheriff’s office.

A cash count verified that all fees collected were accounted for. The funds were remitted to the county’s general fund and deposited at the end of the examination period.

“All monies collected from the sex offender registration fees as pursuant of Alabama law matched all receipts where money was collected,” Meeks said.

• Finding nine relates to the failure to properly void and document voided receipts and disbursements. “The cashbook reflected voided receipts and disbursements; however, voided documents were not made available for review.”

There were also four unresolved findings from the 2012 audit relating to bank accounts not being reconciled; adequate controls being in place over pistol permit sales; equipment inventory listing not being maintained and expenditure from pistol permit fees not serving a law enforcement purpose.

Meeks disputed the unresolved finding of there not being an equipment inventory listing.

Meeks said they are working to implement the changes requested from state auditors.

“There were some things they saw we needed improvement on,” he said. “They showed us what those things were and suggested ways for us to improve and we are working to get in compliance with auditors.”

Meeks said he had already started working on implementing changes to get the department on the right track prior to auditors examining the records and they will continue to implement changes to better improve the sheriff’s office.

“I fully expect a full turnaround by the next audit,” he said. “And hopefully, we will have a clean report.”