Audit estimates $84K misappropriated from Ivor

Published 2:35 pm Saturday, January 26, 2019

An audit in the case of the allegedly misappropriated money from Town of Ivor’s books concludes that approximately $84,000 is gone. This is in connection with the case of the former town clerk Jennifer Bumgardner’s alleged embezzling of the locality’s funds.

The Zuni resident had been arrested on Aug. 16 following an investigation by the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office. This had been prompted soon after the new mayor, Tara Kea, had begun her term on July 1, 2018. As she told the judge during a hearing on Jan. 8, she started gathering paperwork to get acclimated to her new work.

“Several things caught my eye which didn’t add up, so to speak,” she told the assistant commonwealth’s attorney W. Fuller Stoddard, who first questioned her.

Bumgardner, she said, served as both town clerk and treasurer, doing both secretarial work as well as keeping books for the general, water and cemetery accounts.

Kea became concerned by what seemed to be discrepancies in the books, and the matter was turned over to accounting firm of Britt and Peake, P.C., which she later added did a thorough examination over the course of several weeks.

As previously reported in this paper, the investigation initially alleged that Bumgardner embezzled over $22,000. The dates that said violations allegedly took place are June 28, May 16 and April 24 of 2018.

Following the Jan. 8 hearing in Southampton General District Court, the judge certified the three charges of alleged embezzlement against Bumgardner. On Tuesday, a grand jury handed down 10 true bills to certify charges in the case. Nine of them are for embezzling $500 or more; one for $200 or more.

In an audit report obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, The Tidewater News has learned that Britt & Peak detailed its findings. The search was from July 2013 through Aug. 15, 2018 while Bumgardner was the town clerk.

As first stated in the audit about the search for fraudulent disbursements:

“In performing the search for fraudulent disbursements, we examined the monthly report of disbursements prepared by Jennifer Bumgardner that were presented to the town council. We then compared each check on the reports as to the amount and payee to the copies of cancelled checks included in the bank statements. We performed this test on both the general account and the water account. We found various discrepancies and have listed each item found on the attached sheets. Most of the discrepancies were the results of checks written to Jennifer Bumgardner or sometimes Lowe’s or Walmart, but not listed on the disbursements report given to council. Other discrepancies resulted from checks being reported to council with a different payee.

“For example, a council report may have listed a check as being paid to Tidewater News, but the actual cancelled check showed it was paid to Jennifer Bumgardner. In other instances, there were additional paychecks issued to Jennifer Bumgardner in addition to the normal pay schedule. Based on our testing, the total discrepancies in the general fund disbursements totaled to $24,636.51 and $8,031.99 in the water fund. We also noted a few other questionable disbursements, but we did not include those in these totals.”

On the matter of looking for missing cash deposits:

“It was also noted, and confirmed by the bank, that less than five deposits containing any cash had been made by the town since August 2014. Starting in approximately August 2017, an assistant was in the office to help Ms. Bumgardner.

“This assistant actually started keeping a handwritten list of all the monies she collected for the town and she would indicate which of those receipts were actually paid by cash. We totaled all amounts she reported for cash from approximately August 2017 to Aug. 15, 2018, and found that $1,561.39 had been collected for the general fund and $22,180.75 for the water fund.

“However, none of the deposits for that time frame contained any cash monies. Prior to August 2017, we could not find any records in the town office to show how much cash was collected. We did, however, take reports from the water billing system which showed total amounts collected and applied against each customer’s water account and compared that figure to the total amount reported in the general ledger for water revenue collected and deposited.”

The audit continues.

“The following shortages of deposits versus collections are as follows: $2,797.14 for the year ending 6/30/14; $7,178.81 for the year ending 6/30/15; $7,518.62 for the year ending 6/30/16; and $10,224.69 for the year ending 6/30/17.

These amounts all related to estimated amounts of cash collected and not deposited for the water fund. We were not able to find a way to test for approximate amounts of cash collected and not deposited for general fund.”

The report concludes:

“… that in addition to the total fraudulent disbursements of $32,668.50, there was also an estimated amount of $51,461.40 in undeposited cash, for a total of approximately $84,000 in misappropriated funds from the Town of Ivor for the period of July 2013 to Aug. 15, 2018.”

Bumgardner will have an arraignment scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 14, in Southampton County Circuit Court.