Audit says more than $16,000 missing from Martin clerk's office

bestep@herald-leader.comNovember 27, 2012 

State Auditor Adam Edelen spoke on Monday, April 30, 2012 at the Auditor of Public Accounts office in Frankfort, Ky. Photo by David Perry | Staff

HERALD-LEADER

More than $16,000 collected at the Martin County clerk's office earlier this year was not deposited in the bank, according to a state review released Tuesday.

State Auditor Adam Edelen's office discovered the problem while going over longtime Clerk Carol Sue Mills' books. Such undeposited receipts can indicate theft.

Mills said in her response to the finding that an employee in her office confessed to taking money. Mills reportedly was at a meeting Tuesday and did not return a phone message seeking comment, but she told the Herald-Leader in August that she had fired two of her daughters who had worked in her office, Tonya Mills and Tammy Hairston.

Carol Sue Mills said at the time she thought Tonya Mills had taken money because of a drug problem, and that Hairston had tried to help her.

Neither woman has been charged with a crime, but state police are investigating.

The audit also found that the clerk's office paid more than $5,500 to people who supposedly performed office repairs or carried out election duties or other jobs. However, there was no supporting documentation for the spending, nor was there any evidence any work was actually done, the audit said.

Mills said in her response she fired an employee suspected of writing checks for contract labor without documentation. The audit did not include the names of the two employees Mills said she fired.

The audit found a number of other accounting problems in Mills' office, including:

■ The clerk's office did not turn over $4,580 in deed transfer taxes to the fiscal court;

■ Bank statements were not properly reconciled;

■ Deposits were not made correctly.

■ There was not an adequate division of duties in Mills' office, meaning one person had too much control over receipts, deposits and the financial records.

Mills said in her response that she has changed procedures in the office, splitting duties among employees to create a system of checks and balances.

Mills also said she had put new locks on the cash drawers and bought a new safe. Only she and the chief deputy have the combination, Mills said.

The audit covered 2011, but Edelen's office added a review of the first eight months of 2012 after Mills called to report cash shortages.

Mills said in August that she had been clerk for 23 years.

Clerks collect a variety of fees for state and local government.

Bill Estep: (606) 678-4655. Twitter: @billestep1

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