KENNETT, MO (KAIT) - Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway said Wednesday the misuse of funds by a Dunklin County official is "heartbreaking and frustrating."
Galloway made the remark while delivering the audit results that led to the resignation of Shawnee Trowbridge, former public administrator for the county.
Auditors found Trowbridge misused funds entrusted to her to buy pet supplies and pay for purchases made while she was on a trip to Florida, Galloway stated.
State auditors also questioned purchases of bird toys and a dog sweater from the accounts of individuals who did not have pets and fuel purchases made with funds belonging to individuals who did not own vehicles, including some who lived in nursing homes.
During the course of the investigation, auditors also found Trowbridge did not maintain adequate supporting documentation for payments made from ward bank accounts, including $2,000 in purchases to Walmart.
She also did not require wards to sign receipts when they received money or gift cards from her office, raising questions about whether funds were appropriately distributed.
Trowbridge, who served as the county's public administrator since 2007, served as the court-appointed personal representative for estates and as a guardian or conservator for individuals unable to care for themselves or their property.
She managed the financial activity of approximately 200 wards with assets totaling roughly $1.5 million.
"Public administrators are charged with providing important assistance to some of our communities' most vulnerable members, including elderly citizens and those unable to care for themselves," Galloway said. "It's heartbreaking and frustrating to uncover a situation where an official exploits the very people she was entrusted to protect."
Auditors discovered the issues during the course of a regularly scheduled audit of Dunklin County.
Upon further investigation by Attorney General Chris Koster, Trowbridge agreed to resign and make payments totaling $800 into the affected accounts.
Galloway delivered the audit results at the Kennett Oaks Senior Center.
To read the complete audit report, click here.
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