WEST DECATUR — In January 2018, Boggs Township Supervisors approved having a “forensic audit” of the township’s books after a change in elected officials saw longtime Secretary/Treasurer Denise Dobo furloughed, and fellow longtime Supervisor Bill Dickson leaving months later.
A forensic audit is an examination and evaluation of financial information for use as evidence in court. A forensic audit can be conducted in order to prosecute a party for fraud, embezzlement or other financial claims.
At Monday’s supervisors meeting, those audit results were read by Solicitor CJ Zwick, stating the township had received the draft version performed by Fiore Fedeli Snyder Carothers LLP of Altoona.
When contacted by The Progress, Pat Fiore of the accounting agency said when they were hired to do the audit, there were “positions presented that things weren’t as they should be” and supervisors felt a detailed review was needed.
“It could be construed as a forensic audit, as they were the same procedures used to support findings in a legal procedure,” Fiore said in a telephone interview.
Zwick went over what he felt were the main items in the report, which was done from 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and part of 2018.
“The forensic auditor found the following deficiencies,” Zwick said. “Lack of documenting accounting and bookkeeping procedures and/or failure to follow existing procedures, no organization of paid and unpaid invoices, no formal documented approval of invoices or lack of documentation to suggest the invoices were approved, no organized paid bill files and no general organization of the administrative office.”
Zwick said in the years examined, there were 126 “undocumented or unsubstantiated payments” that were made — totaling $129,975.94.
“The forensic auditor found that some of those transactions could be and had been accepted as paying ordinary and necessary expenses of the township,” Zwick said.
Zwick said to determine if there was any “explicit wrongdoing, a final determination and additional services of the forensic auditor — and potentially others — would be required.”
The report also stated that Dobo was overpaid 57 hours over the duration in vacation pay, while former Supervisor Jeff Baney, who died in January 2017, was overpaid 180.77 vacation hours. Dickson was then overpaid 96 hours. For sick pay, Dobo, Baney and Dickson had a balance of 28, 77.5, and 32 hours, respectively.
Zwick also said the auditors found a “toxic environment” during that time, citing meeting minutes from a Feb. 17, 2017.
Those wanting to look at the 16-page audit, Zwick said, could fill out a right-to-know form at the township office and said he didn’t think he or the township would be taking questions about it, as nothing else was said by the supervisors on what the findings were.
“I think the report speaks for itself,” Zwick said.
Fiore said his firm had not spoken to the township yet on its findings, as a meeting scheduled for January was delayed and then further delayed due to COVID-19 closures.
“It’s not my judgment to say what we found is cause for criminal or civil action,” Fiore said. “It is up to their solicitor and the township to see if there was any wrongdoing and if they want to pursue anything.”
Progress Editor Julie Noal contributed to this story.