|The current Knox County State's Attorney says there's a lot of spin being put on the report into financial dealings of his predecessor and the former Knox County Sheriff when they ran their respective departments, but he says it confirms what he knew all along.
State's Attorney John Pepmeyer has issued a statement regarding the report and cites that 80-percent of the items sampled between the two departments had documentation that was incorrect or missing, and says it shows "that mismanagement occurred and questions remain -- where was this money spent, and for what purpose?"
Pepmeyer says many changes have already been implemented in both offices, and that "both offices are now open books." Pepmeyer also blasts the report in part, saying that a forensic audit was originally ordered, and that only a short report was released.
Accounting firm Carpentier, Mitchell, Goddard, and Company put together the report dealing with the finances of the Sheriffs Department and State's Attorney's Offices between late-2003 and late-2006, and says on page one their report isn't an audit, but is instead applying "agreed-upon procedures," which were what the County Board asked for.
We requested interviews Thursday with Pepmeyer, the accounting firm, and Knox County Board Chairman Allen Pickrel. None of the entities have responded to those requests as of Friday afternoon.
The following is the full statement released Thursday by Pepmeyer:
"Upon review of the recently released report from the County's accounting firm, I feel it is necessary to make the following statement regarding the activity in the State's Attorney and Sheriff's offices prior to my appointment.
"From the first days in office, I quickly realized that several past practices involving record keeping, file management and bill paying were inadequate and irresponsible. I came to the conclusion that the mishandling of accounts by former office holders may have risen to the level of financial mismanagement and felt that audits of some departments were necessary. the County Board agreed and a forensic audit was ordered. Despite the request for this extensive audit, a short report was compiled and released.
"Regardless of the spin that has been placed on this limited report, it confirms my suspicions and more.
"According to the report, out of all accounts reviewed a total of 405 items were randomly sampled. Of these, 331 (more than 80%) had 'missing, incomplete, or improper documentation' and/or 'did not have proper approval from the department head or the Chairman of the Knox County Board' totaling $97,998.93 of taxpayer money. In addition, for many items, the report goes as far as to question the 'appropriateness' of the expenditures. This clearly shows that mismanagement occurred and the questions remain--where was this money spent and for what purpose?
"Through the changes we have implemented with the cooperation of the Knox County Board and all department heads, both offices are now open books. All accounts are rightfully maintained by the Knox County Treasurer's Office. Both offices are running smoothly, hidden accounts no longer exist, and threats and intimidation prevail no more.
"How any Knox County citizen, especially a sitting Judge, can be 'thrilled' by the results of this report is beyond imagination."
Click here to view the report commissioned by the Knox County Board (in PDF format)