LITTLE ROCK — A former Cedarville city official apparently altered documents and forged signatures to cover the misappropriation of nearly $300,000 in city funds over a period of about six years, state auditors told the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee on Friday.

LITTLE ROCK — A former Cedarville city official apparently altered documents and forged signatures to cover the misappropriation of nearly $300,000 in city funds over a period of about six years, state auditors told the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee on Friday.


A state audit found that former Cedarville Recorder-Treasurer Alicson Reding issued 108 unauthorized checks and bank drafts totaling $295,880 to herself or on behalf of businesses she owned between Jan. 1, 2008, and April 7, 2014.


Reding resigned April 7 and was arrested Aug. 28. She pleaded innocent Sept. 3 to seven felony counts of theft of property.


Reding’s attorney did not immediately return a call Friday seeking comment.


Auditors first discovered the misappropriation when they were reviewing 14 reimbursement checks issued to Reding or on her behalf in 2012, auditor Cathy Earp told the committee. She said auditors asked Reding for supporting documentation for a $3,471 check that was issued to her, and Reding provided the auditors with a fabricated email and altered invoice.


"We noted that the address number for the vendor was transposed on these two documents. We then contacted the vendor and obtained the original invoice … which was actually a 2008 invoice," Earp said.


The vendor confirmed that it had not done business with the city since 2008, she said.


Auditors also found that Reding used city funds to obtain a cashier’s check for $1,996, supposedly to pay federal payroll taxes. When the check later the cleared the bank, the city’s name had been crossed out and the check was made out to the U.S. Treasury to pay taxes on a business Reding owned, Alicson’s Wonderland.


The audit also turned up a check for $2,536 that the city supposedly paid to the Cedarville School District for damage done by the city to a school sign, and a corresponding invoice that appeared to be signed by the district’s superintendent and initialed by Reding. The superintendent told auditors the school did not receive the money and said his signature was forged.


Auditors also found that in 2012 Reding used city funds to obtain 10 money orders that ultimately were used to pay state taxes on Alicson’s Wonderland.


Glenannna O’Mara, mayor of the city of about 1,400 people, also told the committee that Reding had forged her initials on documents.


O’Mara said she has put in place new procedures requiring that the check and invoice with every disbursement be signed or initialed by the treasurer, the mayor and a city alderman, so that "you have three eyes on every document."


O’Mara also said all documentation is now kept in the city office. Auditors found that Reding had been keeping some documents related to city business in her home.


"Why did it take this to get these procedures in place?" asked Rep. Charlotte Vining Douglas, R-Alma.


O’Mara said she is unpaid, has no office staff and had never been in government before she took office in late 2011. She said Reding had been in office since 2003 and that she trusted Reding to do her job — but she accepted a share of the blame for what happened.


"It’s lack of oversight on my part," she said. "I do apologize, and I’m thankful that the auditors were able to catch this where I did not. I wish it had been me."


The committee also heard from two of the city’s four aldermen, Vince Connelly and Wendell Moore, who pledged to be more vigilant.


"I guarantee you it won’t happen again on my watch," Moore said.


Douglas said after the hearing she was grateful to O’Mara and the aldermen for appearing before the committee.


"That shows, I think, a desire on their part to do better and not let this happen again," she said.


Reding is not the first Cedarville official to run afoul of the law. O’Mara’s immediate predecessor in the mayor’s office, Danny Armstrong, was sentenced in 2012 to four years of federal probation for theft related to programs receiving federal funds.


Federal prosecutors said Armstrong stole about $10,000, some of it from a city street fund that had received federal money.