Wanda Lacey

Audit lists new findings against former village clerk suing state auditor

A dozen new allegations of misspending and sloppy bookkeeping in 2015 and 2016 are listed in a new state audit of the village of New Madison.

Allegations in the audit include more than $9,000 in misspending by former village fiscal officer Wanda Lacey, who is currently suing the Ohio Auditor of State alleging malicious prosecution after theft in office charges against her were dropped last year.

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The new “findings for recovery” – orders that misspent public money must be repaid – against Lacey are for $4,653 in penalties and late fees from her failure to pay the villages taxes on time, and $4,700 in undocumented payments.

They are added to $8,166 in findings issued last year after a state audit of the Darke County village’s books in 2013 and 2014. Those findings also included penalties and late fees for late tax payments.

Lacey no longer works for the village. She is suing the auditor after theft in office charges against her filed by a grand jury in December 2016 were dropped in September 2017. The lawsuit, filed in the Ohio Court of Claims, is scheduled for trial in March and seeks unspecified damages exceeding $100,000.

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A message left with Lacey’s attorney was not returned.

Another finding of the newly released audit is that there was little accounting of the collection of the village’s 1 percent income tax.

“There was no evidence to support that the village took steps to verify that those who should be paying income taxes and/or filing a tax return were actually paying income taxes and/or filing a tax return for 2015 or 2016,” the audit says.

Village administrators did not return a call seeking comment. But they responded to the auditor’s office as part of the audit process.

“Income tax software was not being utilized by previous clerk. No historical data is available due to lack of posting. SSI software was implemented in April 2016 and has been utilized since,” village administrators wrote.

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Other findings listed in the audit are accounting problems, such as a lack of supporting documentation for some appropriations, incorrect amounts being input or money being posted to the wrong accounts.

“Failure to maintain a complete and accurate accountability of public monies could lead to errors and irregularities occurring and not being detected in a timely manner,” the audit says.

The village told auditors most of the issues were fixed in 2016. In response to one finding listing 37 accounting errors, they wrote: “Due to the amount of incorrect procedures/lack of posting, filing & records, etc. the village of New Madison is continuing to correct mistakes and working at moving forward.”

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