State Auditor Nicole Galloway has released a follow-up report to her audit of the Plattsburg Special Road District, located in Clinton County. After the audit found former district secretary/treasurer Ava Langner misappropriated more than $286,000, federal authorities charged her with stealing. The follow-up review examined progress the district board has made in implementing recommendations from the audit, which gave a rating of "poor."
"A call to our Whistleblower Hotline led to the audit that uncovered a seven-year history of a public official using hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to pay personal credit card bills and benefit her private business," Auditor Galloway said. "While the district board has put into place several of the audit recommendations, I urge them to fully implement all the recommendations in order to safeguard public funds and restore the trust of citizens."
The 2019 audit found that the improper payments from the district's account to Langner and her company began shortly after she was appointed in 2011 to handle bookkeeping for the district. The payments grew to more than $50,000 a year and totaled more than $156,000 before she was fired by the district board in October 2018. Over the same period, Langner made more than $125,000 in electronic payments from district funds to pay her personal credit card bills. As recommended by the audit, the board continues to work with law enforcement on criminal prosecution of Langner. The board has also increased its insurance against certain financial crimes.
The audit determined that Langner falsified financial statements to hide some of her misappropriations. She also may have created or modified other official records even after she had been fired from the district and the State Auditor's Office had served her with a subpoena for the documents. The follow-up review found the board is now working to improve oversight of funds. Those changes include conducting reviews of accounting records and checks before approving disbursements. The board is also working to improve processes related to the receipt of funds.
The follow-up review found that of the ten recommendations contained in the audit, the district board has implemented five, partially implemented another two, and is in progress on implementing the other three.
A copy of the follow-up report can be found here.