RICHMOND, Mo. — The Missouri State Auditor’s Office found nearly $3,000 in missing money and over $5,000 in “questionable purchases” at the Ray County Sheriff’s Office in a new audit.

State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick released the audit Monday, giving the local sheriff’s office a “poor” rating.

The regularly scheduled audit examined spending from 2018 to 2020 when Garry Bush was sheriff. Scott Childers has since taken over after winning the 2020 election.

The state’s audit found sheriff’s office personnel didn’t transmit over $2,500 in conceal carry weapon permit fees and over $400 in sex offender registry fees to the county treasurer.

This missing money happened under Bush’s administration, according to the audit. Fitzpatrick’s office has recommended Childers work with the county commission and other law enforcement to investigate and seek restitution.

‘Questionable purchases’

Additionally, the audit found the sheriff’s office spent at least $5,543 on “unsupported and/or questionable purchases” under Bush’s leadership.

According to the audit, the sheriff’s office purchased 15 TVs on a Walmart credit card for over $1,700, as well as $850 on items like cigarettes, beer, barbecue seasonings, and beauty items.

The report also found the sheriff’s office purchased 76 hams for over $1,700.

Fitzpatrick’s office has recommended the Ray County Sheriff’s Office require adequate documentation for all payments and ensure they are all necessary uses of public money.

Accounting problems

The audit also found the sheriff’s office needs to improve its controls and procedures, including accounting duties and better procedures receipting, recording, depositing, and transmitting money.

The state also discovered the Ray County Sheriff’s Office did not retain many financial records, failed to pay bills in a timely manner and didn’t monitor bank balances.

That led to over $400 in late fees and finance charges in 2020 due to late credit card payments and $140 in overdraft fees in 2021.

Other county offices

But the problems aren’t just in the sheriff’s office, according to the audit. The state has recommended improving procedures at the Ray County Prosecutor’s Office.

The audit found the prosecutor’s office doesn’t have “adequately segregated accounting duties or documented supervisory reviews” and needs to improve accounting procedures.

Fitzpatrick’s office also found the Ray County Commission does not adequately comply with Missouri’s Sunshine Law on open records requests and failed to consistently follow personnel policies.