An audit released Monday pointed out lapses in oversight of credit card use and paid leave at the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office during 2014, the last year of former DA Walter Reed’s tenure.
LaPorte, the auditing firm that prepared the report, also found some accounting problems. It said the office didn’t reconcile bank accounts on a timely basis and failed to amend budgets when variances exceeded 5 percent, as called for by state law.
The latest report on Reed’s office is not the more thorough review that officials have been waiting for.
Last August, in the wake of news that a grand jury was investigating Reed, St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister called on Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera to conduct “a thorough and complete inspection of the finances of Walter Reed’s office.” The same day, Reed sent a letter to Purpera inviting the extra scrutiny.
Reed, who chose not to run for a sixth term in office, was indicted in federal court in April on a raft of corruption charges.
The annual audit released Monday notes that the FBI is investigating Reed and that the Legislative Auditor’s Office also is conducting an investigation.
“As of the date of the audit report, June 25, 2015, the investigations were not complete and any effect of their findings is unknown,” the report said.
But the problems highlighted in the annual report might offer a preview of what the more extensive audit could reveal. According to LaPorte, the office had no official policy on vacation time or sick leave.
“Accordingly, there are no procedures in effect for tracking leave and approval of time taken,” the report said.
The auditing firm recommended that the DA’s Office adopt a policy to spell out the extent of the benefits as well as procedures for tracking leave balances and approving time off. Such a policy formerly was in place only for clerical staff.
Warren Montgomery, who replaced Reed early this year, established a formal leave policy and hired a company to set up an automated system for tracking vacation and sick leave. The new system was slated to go into effect this summer, according to the audit report.
The report doesn’t delve into whether employees were paid inappropriately for time off. That issue figured prominently in scandals at the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office under Peter Galvan. He is in federal prison for helping himself to public money, partly in the form of payouts for leave to which he was not entitled.
As for credit cards, the auditors looked at 13 transactions in 2014 and found that in seven cases, there were no supporting receipts to ensure that the expenditures were appropriate. The office also lacked a credit card policy.
Montgomery has addressed that issue, too, establishing a monthly review of credit card bills and documentation, according to the management response included in the report.
The new administration said it also is following the auditor’s recommendations concerning budget amendments and reconciling accounts on a monthly basis.
“We have put in place the appropriate internal controls and accountability measures and outlined them in our official response to the audit,” Montgomery said in a statement Monday. “We are headed in the right direction.”
Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter, @spagonesadvocat.