Bridgeport, OH (WTRF)- Auditor of State Keith Faber’s Office released the Non-GAGAS Engagement of the Village of Bridgeport in Belmont County covering years 2018-2019. In addition to two findings for recovery, the report included multiple other findings.
The audit says during the period January 1, 2016 to February 5, 2020, the control structure for the Village of Bridgeport Mayors Court fees lacked proper segregation of duties.
When Mayors Court fees were received, the Mayors Court Clerk recorded the payment in a manual duplicate receipt book, recorded all of the payments received in a cash book, prepared the receipts for deposit, and deposited the payments at the bank.
The Mayors Court Clerk reported directly to the Mayor and followed his directives, regarding the Mayors Court monies including providing him access to these monies; however, no actual controls or oversight were in place over these funds.
An investigation and special audit conducted by the Special Investigations Unit identified the Village’s Mayor, David Smith, misappropriated Mayors Court receipts, totaling $26,970. The examination of the Mayors Court bank deposits identified Mayors Court receipts collected but not deposited and 14 checks from Mr. Smith. Two checks were personal checks from Mr. Smith and the remaining 12 were his Village of Bridgeport payroll checks or other miscellaneous checks to Mr. Smith or his wife.
The investigation determined Mr. Smith wrote checks or included other checks to himself to repay some of the Mayors Court fees he had taken. Mr. Smith asserted other times he would use the Mayors Court fees to “cash” his Village payroll check. Documentation was not maintained to determine why Mr. Smith included the checks in the Mayors Court deposits.
On February 5, 2020, Mr. Smith was indicted on one count of theft in office, a felony of the third degree, one count of tampering with records, a felony of the third degree, and two counts of conflict of interest, a misdemeanor of the first degree, in Belmont County Common Pleas Court. On July 8, 2020, Mr. Smith plead guilty to one count of theft in office and one count of conflict of interest. On August 10, 2020, Judge John A. Vavra sentenced Mr. Smith to 36 months in prison, and on September 21, 2020, ordered Mr. Smith to pay $26,927 in restitution, which included our audit findings from January 1, 2016 through September 25, 2019 totaling, $24,467, and audit costs totaling $2,460. State audit findings identified an additional $2,503 in misappropriated Mayors Court receipts from September 26, 2019 to February 5, 2020.
In accordance with the foregoing facts from the restitution order and special audit, a finding for recovery was issued against David Smith for public property converted or misappropriated for $29,430, in favor of the Village of Bridgeport’s Mayors Court Fund.
Additionally, during 2019 and 2018, the Village’s debit card, controlled by Mayor, David Smith, was used for purchases totaling $6,130 and $11,884; however, the voucher packet, which normally contains an invoice or other documentation to support the expenditure, could not be located for purchases totaling $2,965 and $11,071, respectively. Without the appropriate documentation, it was not possible to determine if the expenditures included items that would not be considered a proper public purpose.
A finding for recovery was issued against David Smith, former Village of Bridgeport Mayor and his bonding company, the Western Surety Company, in the amount of $14,036 in favor of the Village of Bridgeport’s General Fund.
Other concerns included 16 Noncompliance and 7 Internal Control Deficiency findings.