LITTLE ROCK — An audit of the Drew County Museum in Monticello found that more than $180,000 in museum funds was improperly disbursed to several people, including the former treasurer of the commission that governs the museum, a legislative panel was told Friday.
According to a report presented by Arkansas Legislative Audit to the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee, a review of selected transactions by the museum between Jan. 1, 2011, and Sept. 8, 2015, found that the then-treasurer of the nine-member Drew County Museum Commission — who resigned Sept. 8, 2015 — along with her cousin and a third person received museum funds totaling $80,990.
No documentation was found to support the payments, auditors said in the report.
Auditors also found that checks totaling $101,456 were issued payable to a woman, her husband and her son, with most of the money supposedly being payment for work done on rental properties owned by the museum, but in fact the married couple provided few services and did not receive most of the checks payable to them, and the son received no payments and provided no services.
Also, the treasurer issued two checks and made one debit withdrawal totaling $700, and the money was not redeposited into the museum’s account, according to the report.
Auditors found records showing that a 2014 raffle raised $4,175, but only $2,515 was deposited, leaving $1,660 in raffle proceeds that were unaccounted for.
A deposit slip dated June 7, 2013 for $1,900 indicated the money consisted of rent payments, but bank records indicated the money consisted of transfers from other museum accounts and was not related to rent, according to the report. There also was no indication in the commission’s meeting minutes that it approved the transfers.
Deposits totaling $28,500 included “donations” and other unidentified funds from the treasurer and her cousin, who share a personal bank account, auditors found.
The treasurer’s cousin served on the commission until her resignation Sept. 8, 2015.
Other issues cited in the audit include a lack of records showing when rental properties were vacant and when they were rented; bank withdrawals that the commission’s minutes do not show were approved by the commission; and multiple deficiencies in financial record keeping, internal controls and oversight by the commission.
Auditors also noted that the balance in the museum’s checking account declined from $245,100 on Jan. 1, 2011, to $157,622 on Sept. 8, 2015, and that the museum has been charged $2,580 for having insufficient funds in its account.
The audit report has been submitted to 10th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Deen and the Arkansas State Police. The latter agency is conducting an investigation.
Tommy Gray, president of the Drew County Historical Society and a member of the Drew County Museum Commission, told the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee he began looking into the museum’s finances after noticing that its financial reports were “very, very limited.” The problems he found eventually led to a meeting with Deen, who requested the audit, he said.
Several legislators questioned why the report did not identify anyone by name. Auditors said the people were not named because to date no charges have been filed against them, in keeping with Legislative Audit policy.
“Frankly, I don’t agree with that. I don’t think the citizens of Drew County and Monticello ought to have to find out who this treasurer was,” Rep. Kim Hendren, R-Gravette, said. “When there’s this kind of money here (officials have been) fooling around with, I think they have a right to know it.”
Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, said that if there were any inference to be made from the report regarding a specific person, “the only inference would be that that individual has the oversight responsibility.”
“I think the constituents in any particular area, they have a right to know whether oversight is being conducted properly or not, and so I would ask that you revisit that policy,” Lowery said.
“Yes sir,” said state Legislative Auditor Roger Norman.