Authorities eye fund issue in Florida

FLORIDA – Montgomery County Undersheriff Jeffery T. Smith said the sheriff’s office is investigating how more than $19,000 in public funds disappeared in the town, along with who took the money.

The state comptroller’s office issued an audit Friday revealing the money had been missing.

Brian Butry, spokesman for the state comptroller’s office, said the comptroller’s office had been brought in at the behest of both the Town Board and Sheriff’s Office.

The report of the audit said the sheriff’s office contacted the Comptroller’s office in June about the cash shortage.

An audit of the town clerk’s – Jacquelyn Francisco’s – financial operations was initiated after an investigator told the comptroller’s office it appeared a family member of Francisco’s gained access to and stole cash from tax collections.

The report said town clerk notified auditors during their review that she feared a family member gained access to taxpayer funds and removed them.

The audit said the money was kept in a unrestricted and unsecure location inside of Francisco’s “personal tractor repair store” and her home. Anyone who entered the store had access to the funds, the report said.

The report noted Francisco said she sometimes left a family member unsupervised in her store or home with unsecured collections.

However, the report also noted insufficient record keeping and oversight ultimately led to the missing funds.

Francisco said Tuesday the money had been paid back to the town.

Francisco, who would not identify the family member, also said she had no idea how the family members may have accessed the money.

The audit, which went through records between Jan. 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, said there was at least $19,107 missing, with money transfers placed in an attempt to cover up the shortfalls.

According to the report, the missing money had been put back into the account by Francisco.

The comptroller’s office gave a number of suggestions to the Town Board to improve financial operations, including providing oversight of the tax collection process and auditing the clerk’s records annually.

In a letter attached to the audit, Supervisor William Strevy said that actions suggested in the audit already have been implemented.

“The town of Florida Town Board appreciates the efforts made by your office to identify weaknesses within the Town Clerk’s Office Operations and will strive to correct all,” Strevy said in a response to the audit.

By -