A springtime BREC crime was revived Monday when a legislative audit mentioned that a former BREC employee stole thousands of dollars of toilet paper from the parks and recreation commission.
Problems with employees stealing inventory and money and using BREC credit cards to make personal purchases have led the organization to adopt tighter policies to crack down on theft, said Cheryl Michelet, BREC’s director of communication.
She said the BREC warehouse will have more cameras to cover any blind spots and door chime systems to alert people to when someone exits the warehouse. In addition, the Finance Department will now order warehouse supplies instead of the warehouse workers ordering supplies.
The Advocate reported last spring that two men were arrested near the BREC warehouse after Baton Rouge police saw them loading 15 cases of toilet paper into one of their trucks. Police arrested Cordell Curtis, the BREC employee, and Curtis Matthews, his alleged accomplice, and booked them into Parish Prison.
Both posted bond and were released the next day. The newly released audit says prosecution is still in progress.
Curtis was immediately fired after his arrest. He and Matthews had a deal where Curtis would steal toilet paper and sell it to Matthews, who would turn around and sell it to whomever would buy it. Curtis stole between $3,000 and $6,000 of inventory, according to the audit.
Michelet said BREC recovered $16,000 from Curtis, some of which came from vacation time and other benefits that the organization did not pay out after he was terminated.
Auditors also flagged an incident where a BREC employee used a company Sam’s Club card to make personal purchases. Michelet could not name the employee but said the worker paid back the money and was terminated.
She said the procedures already in place helped catch the wrong charges when Finance Department workers noticed uncharacteristic purchases on the receipt.
“Superintendent (Carolyn) McKnight has made it clear that she does not tolerate misuse from taxpayer dollars,” Michelet said.
BREC tightened its controls last year after employees allegedly stole $9,000 in cash, which was mentioned in a 2012 legislative auditor’s report.