St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre is tightening up internal policies for inventorying his office’s capital assets and making department purchases with credit cards after an annual financial audit recommended several corrective actions.
The audit, completed in October by the Mandeville firm Carr Riggs & Ingram, covers the fiscal year that ended June 30. The 62-page report was released Monday by the Legislative Auditor’s Office.
The report notes that a contract employee who was arrested in August after an investigation had collected more than $42,000 using phony invoices over an 18-month span beginning in January 2013.
Rachel Marie Bourgeois, 43, of LaPlace, had been hired to transcribe interviews on a contract basis for the Sheriff’s Office starting in June 2008. A joint investigation with the Attorney General’s Office found that she allegedly altered invoices, doubled-billed the Sheriff’s Office for work and submitted fraudulent invoices, leading to her being paid multiple times.
Bourgeois was booked with theft by systematic practices, forgery, filing or maintaining false public records, and public payroll fraud. She was released on bond in September.
As no surprise, then, the audit found that the Sheriff’s Office needed to improve its “internal controls regarding the approval process of certain invoices.”
In addition, it said the department lacks proper policies to handle purchases made on credit cards, noting that auditors reviewed seven credit card statements and found 10 reimbursements that did not include itemized receipts.
It also noted that the Sheriff’s Office did not always follow the state’s public bid law. Auditors reviewed 25 purchases and found five that were not in compliance.
In response to the audit, Tregre said his office will develop a written policy for accounting for capital assets and will require an annual physical inventory. He also said his office will develop a policy for credit card purchases that requires necessary supporting documentation for all expense reimbursements, and a separate policy for ensuring that the office complies with public bid laws.
Tregre said Tuesday that the changes either have been implemented already or are near implementation.
Overall, the Sheriff’s Office finished the fiscal year with about $25.2 million in revenue compared with $24.2 million in spending.
Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.