Audit reveals former mayor, recorder/treasurer mismanaged funds

Audit reveals former mayor, recorder/treasurer mismanaged funds
(Source: KAIT)

O'KEAN, AR - A legislative audit, revealing financial wrongdoings at the hands of the former mayor and former recorder/treasurer of the town of O'Kean, has prompted a town meeting to discuss the findings.

The Arkansas Legislative Joint Auditing Committee released a Financial and Compliance Report detailing their findings over the summer. The audit looked into "accounting, budgeting, purchasing, and investing and depositing of public funds" through officials who held office in O'Kean in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

According to the audit, noncompliance with "state law and accepted accounting practices" was noted in both the offices of the mayor and recorder/treasurer. At the time, husband and wife Danny and Frances Gifford held those offices, respectively.

In July 2015, a city council meeting in O'Kean got heated after aldermen started questioning Mayor Danny Gifford about the city's finances. Gifford and his wife have both since resigned from their positions with the city of O'Kean.

Information released in the audit shows the Giffords were responsible for thousands of mismanaged funds in the city, including payroll overpayments, duplicate payments for labor, undocumented reimbursements, and reimbursements based on falsified documentation. Each overpayment, duplicate payment, and reimbursement was made to either Danny or Frances Gifford.

Additionally, the town helped fund the mayor's personal trip to Niagara Falls in 2014.

During the trip, the city council allowed the mayor to pick up a new generator the city bought for $3,050. However, according to the audit, the generator was a 2001 model and the seller indicated the item would ship for free. Despite this, the town paid $1,168 for the mayor's fuel ($550), lodging ($178), ferry fares ($227), meals ($107), and a tire ($106).

A town meeting has been planned for Nov. 6 to discuss the findings of the audit.

The Financial and Compliance Report can be viewed in its entirety here:

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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