5 Investigates: How to stop public officials from stealing money - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

5 Investigates: How to stop public officials from stealing money

Earlier this month, former City of Kingman Finance Director Diane Richards was sentenced to nine years in prison for stealing more than $1 million over eight years. (Source: Attorney General) Earlier this month, former City of Kingman Finance Director Diane Richards was sentenced to nine years in prison for stealing more than $1 million over eight years. (Source: Attorney General)
PHOENIX (CBS 5) -

We hear about it all the time and it's enough to make you mad. We're talking about government insiders stealing your tax money. But what can be done to stop it?

Earlier this month, former City of Kingman Finance Director Diane Richards was sentenced to nine years in prison for stealing more than $1 million over eight years. Much of the stolen money went to cover her gambling debts.

[RELATED: Ex-Kingman employee pleads guilty to embezzling $1.1 million]

"Fraud is everywhere and it's in large organizations just as it's in small organizations," said Linsey Perry, director of the Financial Investigations Division of the Arizona Auditor General's Office.

Perry said her division receives more than 60-tips a year about public officials stealing money. It can happen to state agencies, city and county governments, fire departments, universities and school districts.

"Understanding how and why an employee commits fraud is crucial to preventing it from occurring," said Perry.

Perry said they often find the employee accused of theft has too much responsibility.

[READ MORE: Former Kingman employee accused of stealing more than $1M]

"Generally, we don't want to see that the person collecting those cash receipts is the same person who deposits those."

Investigators said Richards was able to fudge the books for so long was because nobody was looking over her shoulders. According to the 2016 Global Fraud Study, it's usually a lack of internal controls that allow the thefts.

Perry said proper oversight is often the key to prevent these thefts from occurring.

"There's nothing wrong with trusting employees, but there's a point where you need to verify," Perry said.

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Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards , two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. Last fall, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle, in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is a graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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