Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released an audit that shows more than $100,000 in potentially fraudulent activities over a number of years. Dana Mayberry served as the Viburnum City Clerk for 14 years. After losing her reelection bid last year, city officials identified discrepancies in accounts that had been under her control. Mayberry admitted to stealing at least $25,000 in city funds. The mayor contacted law enforcement and the State Auditor's Office to investigate. The audit describes an elaborate scheme that involved adjusting customer utility accounts and then destroying records and other evidence.
"My audit describes a serious breach of public trust at the expense of taxpayers," Auditor Galloway said. "Public officials who take advantage of their positions to enrich themselves must be held accountable."
When citizens made cash payments the former city clerk would pocket the money, and then instead of marking their accounts as paid, she would adjust the accounts to show they owed less than they actually did. The audit shows an estimated $104,000 in adjustments to 1,800 water and sewer accounts over a 7-year period.
Mayberry also adjusted her own personal utility account to avoid paying for water and sewer services to her home for four years at a cost of about $4,000.
Numerous records and receipt documents were destroyed, however, based on existing documents and citizen interviews and receipts, the former clerk may have also stolen several thousand dollars in court fines and property tax payments.
"Due to the deliberate and malicious destruction of records that occurred in the cover-up attempt, we may never truly know the full extent to which taxpayers have been defrauded," Auditor Galloway said. "City leaders have a lot of work to do as they try to rebuild records and reestablish trust and credibility with citizens."
Although the mayor and Board of Alderman ultimately requested the State Auditor conduct an investigation, their previous lack of oversight contributed significantly to the city clerk being allowed to scam the city and its citizens for years before being caught. The report outlines a series of steps the city can take to better protect public dollars going forward, including recommendations to improve accounting practices in the city and court and increase oversight of the utility and property tax system.
Auditor Galloway has turned the report results over to law enforcement authorities and says her staff stands ready to assist prosecutors in any way possible to bring justice for the citizens of Viburnum.
This audit report gives the city of Viburnum a performance rating of poor, which means the State Auditor will return to determine whether recommendations have been followed. The complete report is available online here.
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