DA, DTF get positive audit
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
Jun 25, 2013 | 842 views | 0 0 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DTF review
Steve Bebb
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A state audit has returned no discrepancies in funds administered by the 10th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office or the 10th Judicial District Drug Task Force for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012.

District Attorney General Steve Bebb said Monday he is very happy with the drug task force.

“Steve Lawson has done a wonderful job, as have all of the DTF officers,” he said. “It speaks volumes of the board of directors.”

The task force is a joint venture formed in the late 1980s by interlocal agreement between the district attorney general, county and participating municipal law enforcement agencies within Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties. Operating funds come primarily from federal grants, drug fines and the forfeiture of drug-related assets to DTF, according to state audits.

According to the latest audit dated June 21, discrepancies were found in five of the state’s 31 judicial districts.

As district attorney, Bebb chairs a governing board of 13 directors composed of him, all four county sheriffs and police chiefs of the participating cities within the counties. The district attorney has oversight of DTF.

Bebb appointed former Bradley County chief deputy Steve Lawson as interim director Sept. 1, 2010, and the board of directors affirmed his permanent appointment two months later, on Nov. 9.

Lawson instituted procedural modifications to make the agency more publicly accountable. Since assuming leadership, he rewrote organization and policy manuals, updated procedures and started a logbook for documenting all purchases.

The board of directors meets quarterly at rotating locations in the district. In an effort to maintain a system of checks and balances, Lawson created a communications committee that includes the district attorney and two voting board members. The committee offers consent on decisions affecting the task force.

He said Monday that he too is pleased with the audit.

“We’ve tried to make things better,” he said. “We went through a rough time for awhile with the investigative audit. It makes us feel good to come away from an audit with no findings. But it’s not me who deserves the credit, because everyone is all on the same page. I just steer the ship.”

According to the audit, the District Attorney General Fund began the fiscal year on July 1, 2012, with a fund balance of 197,298. The office collected $57,440 in fees and $241 in interest for a total of $57,681 in new revenue. The DA’s office reported expenditures of $29,872, which left a fund balance as of $255,107 at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2012.

DTF began the fiscal year with $1,999,422. The agency reported $566,714 in revenue with $391,698 of that coming from forfeitures and seizures. Total expenditures equaled $976,748, leaving a fund balance of $1,589,388.

Findings in the five judicial districts included:

First District

- The Drug Task Force had a cash shortage of $2,195 as of Jan. 31, 2013.

- Deficiencies were noted in the receipting and depositing of funds.

- Records for seized cash and seized property were not properly maintained.

- Adequate documentation was not maintained to support some confidential expenditures.

- Equipment inventory control records were not properly maintained.

- Board of directors’ minutes were not available for some board meetings.

- Deficiencies were noted in the time sheets submitted by and the salary amounts paid to the former DTF administrative assistant.

- Discrepancies were noted in the DTF’s Byrne Grant quarterly income summary reports.

Third Judicial District

- Drug evidence was missing from numerous cases.

- The DTF had a cash shortage of $1,700 as of Feb. 14, 2013.

- The DTF had accounting and financial deficiencies.

- Deficiencies were noted in the recording and management of seized property.

- Adequate documentation was not maintained to support some confidential expenditures.

- Deficiencies were noted in the receipting and depositing of funds.

- Purchases were not made in accordance with the county’s purchasing procedures.

- Equipment inventory control records were not properly maintained.

- The DTF had grant reporting deficiencies.

Twelfth Judicial District

- Some funds were not properly receipted and disbursed in accordance with state statutes by the Drug Task Force.

Fifteenth Judicial District

- The Drug Task Force had deficiencies in the use of credit cards.

Nineteenth Judicial District

- Some funds seized by the Drug Task Force were not deposited within three days of collection as required by state statutes.