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Questions raised about Maumee court audit cost

A Maumee Municipal Court audit launched in response to suspected theft by an employee will cost nearly five times more than the city's separate audit already in progress.

The Blade, through a public records request, obtained a letter of engagement between the court and the Maumee-based accounting firm Gilmore Jasion Mahler. The five-page letter outlines services to be performed at a rate of $245 per hour.

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Maumee mayor Richard Carr is frustrated with several elements of a theft by an employee from Maumee Municipal Court and the court's response to the subsequent audit.

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The letter is dated Oct. 19 and was signed Oct. 20 by clerk of court Frank Frey. Former court employee Jane Monroe was indicted on seven felonies Oct. 6. She’s accused of stealing more than $30,000 from her employer. The court was notified by Maumee Police of potential theft in September.

Mayor Richard Carr has been frustrated with several elements of the court's response.

"They were told about the theft in their court on Sept. 21," Mayor Carr said. "They knew nothing about it for 41 days, and then it takes them another month to even enter into an agreement to have an audit done to find out how the money was stolen."

The first page of the letter states the report "will contain a statement that is intended solely for the use of the court." Mayor Carr has stated from the beginning he wanted the court to use the Ohio State Auditor's office to ensure transparency and guarantee city officials could see the findings.

Mayor Carr said the court has not been willing to share information in the past, such as redacting specific services on bills council is essentially forced to pay.

Mr. Frey said his audit's results will be made public.

"In our opinion, the results will be public information and will be shared with the city," he said. "The city opted to have the state auditor come in and take a look as well. I told them we will work with them and disclose all of our findings."

The city is paying the auditor's fraud division $50 an hour to conduct a separate audit of the court. The state's findings are subject to public records laws.

Mayor Carr said the city's insurance covers any audit the court chooses, but not the city's audit.

"If it was your money or my money, and you can have experts from the state of Ohio for $50 an hour who specialize in governmental fraud, or you can have a private firm at $250 an hour, you're going to pick the $50 per hour," Mayor Carr said. "But when it's not your money, I guess it doesn't matter to some people."

Mr. Frey and the court elected to use the local firm because of its reputation.

"We wanted somebody local, experienced, and trusted," Mr. Frey said. "These folks have a reputation for being careful and thorough in assessing what's been lost. I don't mean to denigrate the auditor's office at all."

Judge Gary Byers is up for election Tuesday against current City Councilman Dan Hazard. Mayor Carr and members of council have been critical of Judge Byers.

"The sad thing is the city is attempting to play election year politics with this thing," Mr. Frey said. "We've got our own obligations and matters to deal with."

Contact Jay Skebba at jskebba@theblade.com, 419-376-9414, or on Twitter @JaySkebbaBlade.

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