The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 6, 2013

Audit finds $20,000 missing in Pineville

State office reviewed municipal court operations

By Jeff Lehr
jlehr@joplinglobe.com

PINEVILLE, Mo. — A state audit of Pineville Municipal Court has determined that about $20,000 or more is missing from the court’s cash receipts.

The Missouri state auditor released a report Wednesday that gives the town’s municipal court a rating of poor in a recent review of the court’s written policies, procedures and financial records.

State Auditor Tom Schweich said the audit was prompted by requests in June of last year from Circuit Judge Tim Perigo and Jonathan Pierce, the McDonald County prosecutor. Schweich said Pierce presented credible evidence of fraud, and a rapid-response audit was necessary to avert any possibility of documents being destroyed.

The scope of the audit was limited to the calendar years 2010 and 2011, and the first six months of 2012. The state’s accountants found that $19,648 in cash receipts of the court between June 2010 and May 2012 were never deposited.

The review of court records also “showed the handling of various tickets was contrary to established court procedures, records were incomplete and case activity was unusual,” the audit report said. Certain defendants were sent confirmation letters requesting information about their cases and documentation of any payments made. The auditors thus were able to confirm an additional $1,648 in fines and costs that may have been paid but were not recorded on receipt slips and were not deposited.

Andrea Faidley was the court clerk during the audit period. Faidley was hired for the position in May 2010 and was fired in June 2012 “for reasons not related to the suspected missing monies,” the audit states. The Globe was unable to reach Faidley for comment Wednesday. Her listed telephone number is no longer a working number.

Schweich said it will be up to local law enforcement to decide whether there is any criminal liability for the missing money.

“That’s been referred to the prosecutor,” he said. “There’s over $20,000 missing. He’s going to have to determine if it was stolen — if there was an embezzlement — or if it was just sloppy bookkeeping.”

Pierce said he has been in contact with the state auditor’s office regarding the situation over the past several months and is aware of the audit’s findings.

“I’m going to request that the Highway Patrol do a full investigation of the missing monies,” Pierce told the Globe.

He said the irregularities in the municipal court were first brought to his attention by Pineville Mayor Pat Beshears and the city attorney, Erin Willits.

The state’s accountants subsequently found 52 checks and money orders totaling $11,006 on hand for which no receipt slips had been issued. Dates on the checks and money orders dated back as far as December 2005.

Perigo convened a grand jury a year ago to look into municipal courts in McDonald County after the state auditor’s office rated the municipal court procedures and records in Lanagan as poor.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol followed up that audit with a probe that led to the indictments of Lanagan police Chief Larry Marsh and Officer Michael Gallahue on allegations of forgery related to alterations of racial profiling reports and the issuance of citations on a nonexistent statute.

Marsh, who remains charged with six counts of forgery, has a court hearing coming up in March. The charges against Gallahue were dismissed in exchange for his testimony as a witness in the case.



Disarray

ACCORDING TO A STATE AUDIT REPORT, when Pineville’s city clerk began preparing records on June 4 of last year for an unspecified court purpose, she reportedly discovered the municipal court case files in disarray, undeposited checks that had been made out to the court months earlier, and tickets that had never been entered into the automated case management system for Missouri courts.