State auditor finds mismanagement in Owsley clerk's office

Financial mismanagement found nine years in a row; Report sent to Attorney General

bestep@herald-leader.comNovember 10, 2010 

State Auditor Crit Luallen has referred several findings of mismanagement by Owsley County Clerk Sid Gabbard's office to the state attorney general, according to a news release.

In a report released Tuesday, auditors said the bookkeeping in Gabbard's office was so shoddy they couldn't verify the accuracy of its financial picture.

It was the ninth year auditors had issued such a "disclaimed" opinion on Gabbard's finances.

The audit covered 2009.

"Our audits continue to point out the ongoing deficiencies in the clerk's office that have created an environment of mismanagement at the public's expense," Luallen said.

"The taxpayers of Owsley County expect their tax dollars to be properly handled without waste and with zero suspicion of fraud or abuse."

Among other things, auditors found that Gabbard deposited money from an unknown source to make up for a deficit from the year before.

Gabbard told auditors he put in his own money to cover the shortfall.

But because of poor record keeping, auditors said they couldn't eliminate the possibility the clerk used money collected by his office in 2010 to cover the previous year's deficit.

The audit also found that receipts in Gabbard's office often didn't match deposits and that he did not properly account for fish and wildlife fee collections. That account had a negative balance at the bank every month, the audit said.

Gabbard told auditors "he only made a deposit in this account after the bank called and told him how much he needs to deposit to bring his account balance back to zero," according to the audit.

The audit said reports from Gabbard's office to other agencies were misleading and that calculations were incorrect on the amount of fees the office was supposed to turn over to the county fiscal court.

Gabbard told auditors he would correct the problems, according to the news release.

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