TULSA - A scathing report by Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones says the county has misused federal funds, done a poor job tracking its finances, and left county officials open to potential criminal charges.
Perhaps the most aggregious potential violation was $4,254,337.53 in FEMA disaster money the report says was used on roads not affected by the flooding the money was supposed to fix.
The report uncovered millions of dollars in what it says was double-billing done by contractors.
"As part of our examination," part of the report states, "OSAI identified two vendors that repeatedly submitted multiple, altered versions of invoices, apparently at the request of the District 2 Commissioner (Mike Helm), for the same work performed," and that "we determined that vendors altered information and dates on invoices at the Commissioner's request."
Millions more were paid out to a contractor who apparently didn't have to compete for the bid, a violation of state law.
The county treasurer, it goes on, has failed to issue tax warrants to collect $663,418.60 in unpaid personal property taxes over the last several years.
Not all of the information in the audit is new, and a multi-county grand jury seated in Oklahoma County has been investigating many of the items in the report, along with a myriad of other alleged misdeeds, crimes and misdemeanors at all levels of Rogers County government.
So far, no indictments have been issued.
However, Jones says the latest audit has been forwarded to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for review, and given the serious nature of some of the allegations, the possibility of criminal charges certainly exists.
Some of the other allegations include:
- Personal use of county equipment
- Soliciting gifts from vendors bidding on contracts
- Avoiding the competitive bid process by splitting bids
- Falsifying invoices and other financial records
- Illegal campaign contributions