Durham Social Services office under investigation

April 5, 2012 5:50:43 AM PDT
The Durham County Sheriff's Office has launched a probe of the county's Department of Social Services after an audit questioned how gift cards meant to pay expenses for foster children were used.

The sheriff's office declined to comment beyond saying it's investigating "unspecified allegations into misconduct at DSS."

The audit was released early Wednesday by the Durham County Internal Audit Department. It was given to county officials March 30.

Click here to read the audit (.pdf)

The DSS board asked for the audit after former DSS Director Gerri Robinson was fired last July. Robinson has since filed a lawsuit claiming the county violated her civil rights. The audit covers the period Robinson held the director position.

Among their findings, auditors said Walmart gift cards normally used to provide emergency food or clothing to foster children were instead being used to fund office parties and reward agency workers.

DSS officials bought more than $200,000 in gift cards over several years but didn't track how they were used.

The audit also questioned the office's use of temporary workers and contractors and the reimbursement of a former director's moving expenses in 2009 without getting competitive bids.

Durham County Manager Mike Ruffin said he contacted Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews to request an investigation at the request of the Durham County Board of Commissioners. He declined to comment further citing the advice of the county's legal counsel.

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