Covering Kentucky

Jan 23, 2013 10:39 PM

Harlan Sheriff's Office Audit Referred To Police

HARLAN (AP) - The state auditor's office has referred an audit of the Harlan County Sheriff's Office to Kentucky State Police.

Media outlets cited a report released on Tuesday in reporting that the sheriff's office can't account for nearly $40,000 that supposed to be earmarked for undercover drug buys.

A "surprise cash county of drug monies" was performed by the auditor's office on July 3.

"The sheriff had a total of $2 in a bank bag locked in the safe for drug buys," reads the audit. "The sheriff also had an advance receipt log with the bank bag that was signed by the detective when receiving cash for drug buys and specified the amount that the detective received."

The total amount missing is $37,668. Seized funds are used for the account, which is ordered by the court to be used for "direct law enforcement purposes."

The audit states that total cash advancements were $156,830

Harlan County Sheriff Marvin Lipfird's response was contained in the audit.

"When the auditor brought this to my attention, I went to the state police and requested they conduct an investigation," he said, adding that he had "just dismissed an employee for theft" when he was made aware of the missing funds.

He says he plans to get in touch with state police soon to discuss the case.

"We were in the hold process until the auditor got done because we didn't have an actual figure," said Lipfird.

The audit also says Lipfird should reimburse the 2011 official fee account $919 and the drug account $128. Lipfird said the office has implemented a new way to account for receipts and he will pay what is required.

The audit also refers the purchase of a 2004 Ford Explorer, which was purchased from the spouse of a former employee for $7,500, to the Harlan County Ethics Committee. The vehicle had been registered it with a value of $2,700. Lipfird said it was rebuilt before he bought it, and he sought legal advice before making the purchase.

"I had also consulted with the county attorney before trading it in and was advised that if I received a fair trade in value there would be no issue. The $2,700 was a salvage value. The $7,500 was below the value after the repairs were made. The former employee disclosed in her ethical disclosure statement that her husband owned the business so this was an arm's length transaction," his response said.

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Information from: Harlan Daily Enterprise, http://www.harlandaily.com

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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