FARMINGTON — Nine months after auditors flagged alleged widespread misuse of funds in the Davis County sheriff’s business office, no criminal charges have been filed and a key manager remains on the payroll.
The business office manager, R. Keith Major, was put on paid administrative leave April 5, 2018, after the county clerk-auditor’s office began auditing finances in the sheriff’s office. The audit started after the transfer of business functions from the sheriff to the clerk-auditor as ordered by the county commission in December 2017.
An audit report obtained with an open-records request in May 2018 concluded the sheriff’s office mishandled $126,000, including $34,900 in cash and checks that auditors found stored in various drawers.
Much of the funds were commissary funds the sheriff’s office managed for jail inmates.
County Attorney Troy Rawlings declined Monday to comment on the criminal investigation into the alleged funds misuse, other than to say “no” when asked if the case has been closed.
Curtis Koch, county clerk-auditor, said his office continued to look into the business office situation during the summer of 2018.
At that point, he said, “we suspended that audit based upon what had been found and what we had come across” and turned over the investigation to the county attorney’s office.
Rawlings referred the criminal investigation to the Farmington Police Department. Investigations of county operations are often referred to outside agencies to avoid a conflict of interest.
On Monday, Farmington Police Chief Wayne Hansen said the investigation is still waiting on further information from the county attorney.
Efforts to contact the new sheriff, Kelly Sparks, were not immediately successful. He was elected in November and sworn in Monday. For the past decade, Sparks was deputy director of the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Division.
The previous sheriff, Todd Richardson, chose not to run for reelection.
County Human Resources Director Debra Alexander said Monday that Major remains on the payroll “receiving service time as a form of severance.” She said Major and the county reached “a mutually agreeable resolution” to end his employment.
Major did not return a phone message. The longtime sheriff’s business manager is treasurer of the Davis County Republican Party. He was an unsuccessful candidate for county clerk-auditor in 2014.
The audit covered transactions from Oct. 1, 2017, to April 2, 2018. Much of the problems overlapped the sheriff’s office’s installation of a new electronic kiosk system. The system allows jail inmates’ relatives or friends to electronically deposit funds for inmates to buy food, hygiene items and other things while incarcerated.
“Due to this failure, over $126,000 of funds were exposed to risk of loss, fraud and inaccurate accounting,” the audit report said.
The audit documented instances of some inmates inappropriately receiving extra sums — one getting enough to be able to bail out of jail immediately. Other inmates’ transactions were mistakenly voided or otherwise mishandled, the audit said.
Auditors found two bags of money containing cash but no receipts or other documentation.
The audit faulted Major.
“As outlined in the business manager’s job description, he is responsible to manage and maintain all financial operations for the DCSO,” the audit said. “It was solely the business manager’s responsibility to ensure that the correct data was being captured. … This did not occur.”
Major said in a county memo that staffing and workload problems that had become apparent in late 2017 were aggravated by the commission’s decision to strip the sheriff’s office of control over the business office.
“Delay in any deposits were caused by multiple people, systems and workload,” Major’s memo said. “But the bottom line, in my opinion, is that the main cause of delays was the initial commission decision to move people, thus causing delays in rehiring and manpower shortages in work assigned by the commission.”
In a May interview, Commissioner Jim Smith said the commission decided in December it needed better control because of “ongoing challenges with the sheriff’s office complying with county policies and procedures regarding purchasing and other capital acquisitions.”