A former Baldwin clerk is accused of pocketing tens of thousands in cash payments made to the town and creating false public records to conceal the missing funds, according to an audit released Monday.
State auditors determined Natashia Lancelin, 40, 116 Lancelin St. in Baldwin, collected the payments but never deposited $63,504 in cash, then created new log sheets that omitted the payments from record, according to the Legislative Auditor’s Office.
Investigators with the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested Lancelin on Monday.
She remained in the St. Mary Parish jail Monday afternoon in lieu of a $65,000 bail and on counts of theft, second-degree injuring public records, filing false public records and malfeasance in office, according to the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The utility, permit, fine and other payments in question were made from July 10, 2014, to June 15, 2015. Lancelin was “primarily responsible for receiving, recording, processing, and/or depositing nearly all of the missing funds,” according to the audit.
Lancelin was fired in June 2015 after the town’s accountant first noticed a discrepancy in deposits, according to the audit. The accountant noted Lancelin was the only clerk present on at least one occasion when some collections were not deposited.
Lancelin denied knowledge of why the cash went missing, as did two other clerks who worked in the office.
The town of about 2,400 people has since implemented new policies and procedures relating to collections, according to a Dec. 11 response Mayor Donna Lewis Lanceslin wrote to the auditor’s office.
Clerks now operate out of their own locking cash drawers and access electronic bill-paying systems with a unique identity and password. Total deposits and receipts will be reviewed and compared daily, and payments will be internally audited each quarter. Employees also will use an electronic timekeeping system.