Friday, January 11, 2013

Prosecutor releases full forensic audit

7,000 pages of Sun Valley inquest now public


By BRENNAN REGO
Express Staff Writer

Anyone with a mind for detail can sift through stacks of documents from the city of Sun Valley at the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas has released for public review nearly 7,000 pages of supporting documents to a recently conducted forensic audit of the city of Sun Valley.

Thomas said people interested in viewing the documents can do so at his office by appointment. The documents include copies of city employee time cards and payment sheets, city credit card statements, correspondences between city employees, city officials and several investigators who conducted inquests into the city over the past 13 months and much more.

The publicly funded forensic audit—an in-depth analysis of the city’s finances during 2009 through 2011 that cost just under $285,000—was commissioned voluntarily by the city in April in response to allegations by city employees of misuse of public funds by other city employees. A summary report of its findings and the thousands of pages of supporting documents were subpoenaed by Thomas shortly after the report was presented to Mayor Dewayne Briscoe and the City Council in executive session in late August.

Thomas subpoenaed the forensic audit as part of a criminal investigation by his office of the alleged misuse of public funds in the city. Thomas has stated that he will not file charges against current or former city employees, citing insufficient evidence due to sloppy record keeping and permission by city officials for employees to engage in questionable activities.

Over the past six weeks, Thomas has released the 17-page summary report and a 46-page list of supporting exhibits, but the rest of the supporting documents remained under lock and key until now. Though Thomas’ office has redacted the documents, the redactions are minimal and limited to information such as bank account numbers and post office box numbers. Thomas said other than the redactions, the files are complete and include everything the city provided his office according to the subpoena.

The audit was conducted by Newport Beach, Calif.,-based accounting firm Hagen, Streiff, Newton & Oshiro According to Briscoe, the city will save about $60,000 a year in the long term due to policy changes made and other corrective actions taken based on its findings.


Access the files
Those interested in viewing the files should make an appointment with the Office of Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas at 788-5545. Thomas will charge $15.50 per hour of review for staff supervision. Thomas said people must bring signed public records request forms to the appointment. To download a form approved by Thomas, go to the home page of the newspaper’s website at www.mtexpress.com and scroll down to “Our Extras” on the left side of the page, or click here.


Brennan Rego: brego@mtexpress.com




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