Durham sheriff audit: no supervision led to thefts

February 11, 2010 4:34:10 PM PST
According to documents obtained by ABC11's I-Team, a lack of supervision and financial expertise are to blame for yet another alleged theft at the Durham County Sheriff's Office.

The department is dealing with its second embezzlement within two years. The total amount of the losses is unclear and is now part of a criminal investigation.

A follow-up report on two previous audits requested by the County Manager says, "an employee stole money that was intended to be spent in undercover illegal drug operations."

A spokesperson for the NC Attorney General's Office confirms the Special Prosecutions Unit is reviewing a case involving a former Durham County Sheriff's Office investigator. County officials say the employee at the center of the probe often worked without supervision for several years. A decision on whether to charge the former employee is expected next month.

This is not the first time the department's finances have raised concerns. Kim Perkins, a former Durham County Sheriff's employee, pleaded guilty to embezzlement in 2007.

Perkins was accused of stealing more than $113,000.

The incident prompted the department to conduct an internal audit in 2007 followed by another audit in 2008 by a private firm. At least one audit shows losses from the case may be nearly three times as much as Perkins was originally prosecuted for. Perkins pleaded guilty and received a suspended sentence. She was placed on two years of supervised probation and ordered to pay back the money she'd stolen.

Her punishment and the possibility of another embezzlement has caught the attention of the county leaders who've also requested a review of Perkin's plea agreement.

In documents provided to Eyewitness News, county leaders requested a review of both audits last month. It shows some of the recommendations to improve controls over cash in the Sheriff's Office in 2007 and 2008 were either not implemented correctly or not at all.

County leaders minus Sheriff Worth Hill met in closed session Monday night to discuss the matter. The Sheriff's Office was encouraged to implement previous audit recommendations.

Calls to Sheriff Worth Hill have not been returned. The legal advisor to the Durham County Sheriff's Office have declined to comment but provided financial documents to ABC11's I-Team.

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