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Published: 4/13/2005

Auditor finds Walbridge court didn't deposit more than $3,000

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

More than $3,000 collected for the Walbridge Mayor's Court was not deposited into any village bank account and must be recovered, according to an audit released yesterday by the state auditor's office.

The audit, released for years 2002 and 2003, found that Jennifer Kimura, a former clerk of courts, collected $3,241 for the Mayor's Court from June 1, 2003, through March 30, 2004, but the money was not deposited into any village account.

Ms. Kimura, 35, of Toledo was indicted by a Wood County grand jury in February on one count of theft in office. She pleaded not guilty to the charge. Her case, which has been assigned to Common Pleas Judge Robert Pollex, is set for a pretrial hearing April 22.

Ms. Kimura, who resigned from her post in April, 2004, could not be reached for comment yesterday. If convicted of the charge, a fourth-degree felony, she could face up to 18 months in prison.

The audit also found that from March 1, 2003, through Sept. 30, 2004, the mayor's court collected $8,183 in fees but distributed only $2,008 to the state treasurer. The remaining $6,125 was paid to the state treasurer as of Feb. 16, the date the state audit report was signed by Auditor Betty Montgomery.

Walbridge Mayor Dan Wilczynski and Council President Ron Liwo, Sr. said yesterday they were not surprised by the audit's findings because they asked for a review after finding what the mayor called "discrepancies" in Ms. Kimura's reports.

"We were proactive in this," Mayor Wilczynski said. "As soon as we had some inkling of a problem, we did an internal review, and everything that we found and the state found, we turned over to the county prosecutor."

But the audit found that "the mayor did not monitor the financial operations or activities of the Mayor's Court. Documents such as open cases, bank reconciliations, monthly cashbooks, daily deposits, duplicate receipts issued, and disbursements made did not indicate any type of monitoring being made by the Mayor through initialing or dating [that] the documents had been reviewed.

"The failure to adequately monitor the Mayor's Court operations could result in the misappropriation of the Mayor's Court assets to go undetected."

The audit recommends that the mayor initial and date documents after they are reviewed "to ensure Mayor's Court procedures are being performed in a timely and accurate manner."

Mayor Wilczynski said he did not dispute the audit's findings regarding his responsibilities and has been complying with the audit's recommendation for about a month.

"It's already changed," he said of Mayor's Court procedures.

The auditor's report contained other findings involving the village's handling of its financial affairs. The report noted that the village fiscal officer did not give prior certification for more than half of the purchase transactions the state auditor tested. Not only is certification required under Ohio law, but it helps reduce the possibility that village spending will exceed budgetary limits set by council.

Walbridge spent more than $281,600 over the $168,755 that was appropriated in its street construction, maintenance, and repair fund in 2002. The audit warned that the clerk-treasurer shouldn't certify the availability of funds exceeding appropriations.

The audit also found Mr. Liwo was overcompensated by $230.77 after receiving a salary increase retroactive to Jan. 1, 2002, when he was clerk/treasurer. He reimbursed the village on Dec. 1 once he was made aware of the overcompensation.

Blade staff writer Jennifer Feehan contributed to this report.

Contact Erika Ray at:

eray@theblade.com

or 419-724-6088.



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