Evangeline Sheriff audit released; findings mirror problems cite - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Evangeline Sheriff audit released; findings mirror problems cited last month

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Evangeline Sheriff Eddie Soileau at the State Bond Commission Evangeline Sheriff Eddie Soileau at the State Bond Commission
Evangeline Parish -

The Legislative Auditor posted a recent audit of the Evangline Parish Sheriff's Office Monday, a report which reflects the effects of years of mismanagement by Sheriff Eddie Soileau.

Last month, the sheriff admitted he had not managed his office's business properly since he took office in 2012. His admission, which has been his only public acceptance of responsibility, came during a meeting of the state Bond Commission. He was requesting that the commission allow him to borrow $1 million to make payroll this month. The commission agreed, with the condition that he accept assistance from the parish Assessor's Office and from his accountants, Kolder, Champagne, Slaven and Co. To read our story about it, click here

The audit had 15 findings or problems with the sheriff's management of his office's finances. All of them were raised during his discussions with the Bond Commission last month. 

Of those findings, only one is a long-standing issue that can't be addressed, and pre-date Soileau's term in office. That finding is a lack of staffing to handle financial issues - a very common finding for smaller government agencies. Most smaller governments can't afford to have a position like that. 

The other findings are all from Soileau's term, and include issues cited by Bond Commission staff last month in their correspondence with the sheriff. The most recent findings include: 

  • Weak controls over fuel purchases mean the auditors couldn't determine if the fuel was even put in sheriff's vehicles. 
  • The sheriff's cash bonds and bond fee accounts didn't reconcile.
  • The sheriff's civil account didn't reconcile.
  • The commissary funds, the money the sheriff holds for inmates, didn't reconcile. 
  • The monthly prison attendance report didn't reconcile. 
  • Timesheets are processed and checks issued before the end of the pay period, so there is no way to make sure people got paid for hours they actually worked. Other timesheets were submitted without approval. 
  • The sheriff owes more than $63,000 in delinquent payroll taxes this year; the same problem occurred last year, costing the parish more than $3,400 in penalties and fees. 
  • Cash deposits aren't made timely.
  • There are no written policies for budgeting, purchasing, receiving money, collecting money, disbursing money, payroll, capital assets, gas dispensing, gas use, or the evidence room. 
  • The sheriff did not meet requirements of state law in making payments from the bond fee account.
  • The sheriff was collecting bond fees of $25 per bond; state law sets bond fees at $15 per bond. 
  • The sheriff did not meet state deadlines for disbursement of property taxes he collected in January 2016.
  • The sheriff did not comply with state requirements for his budget, because he has spent at least 5 percent more than he took in.

The audit shows that some of these problems are repeat findings from prior years; although the sheriff promised to fix these issues, some still haven't been corrected. 

To read the report for yourself, scroll down. 

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