Packwood man subject of crime commission audit
By Andy Hallman, Golden Triangle News Service
State auditor Mary Mosiman has released a report on alleged misuse of a credit card by the head of a local crime commission.
The report was about the South Iowa Area Crime Commission based in Fairfield and concerned particularly with purchases made by its former executive director, Matthew Murphy, of Packwood. The special investigation into the commission identified a little over $13,000 in improper, unsupported credit card charges and late fees.
The improper charges cover personal purchases made at convenience stores, retail vendors and grocery stores. It also includes excessive per diem meal costs paid by the commission.
Mosiman wrote that Murphy paid for a little over $12,000 of the improper purchases, and that the commission paid the remaining $1,164 in unsupported charges.
Her report covers April 1, 2015 through March 31, 2016. In preparing it, she and her staff interviewed commission staffers and reviewed its checking account, credit card statements and payroll.
In addition to discovering just over $13,000 in improper and unsupported credit card charges, the investigation uncovered several internal control weaknesses.
The commission is a 28E organization serving 15 counties in southeast Iowa, including Jefferson County and all surrounding counties. It provides transportation services for juveniles to and from the South Iowa Area Detention Service Agency in Montrose and to and from sheriffs’ offices. It is governed by a board with a representative from each county.
According to the report, Murphy began working for the commission in November 1997, and became its executive director in August 2015 when the prior director, Stephen McCoy, died. Murphy resigned from the position in March 2016.
Commission employees are allowed to use credit cards to purchase meals during the course of their work transporting juveniles from town to town. The commission would reimburse their meals to a certain amount that changed depending on the meal, and if the employee went over that amount, they were responsible for paying the difference.
Staff members were to be reimbursed $4.50 for breakfast, $6.50 for lunch and $9.25 for dinner. Receipts were required.
The audit states receipts were not submitted for a number of charges at restaurants, convenience stores and grocery stores.
“Mr. Murphy paid for the portion of these charges which exceeded the authorized reimbursement rates for a period of time,” the audit said. “However, commission staff members we spoke with reported Mr. Murphy told commission staff the maximum meal rates ‘did not matter’ after the commission’s previous bookkeeper retired in October 2015.”
As a result of the apparent change in policy, the commission began paying the full cost of all meals Murphy purchased with the commission’s credit card. However, meal reimbursement rates for employees providing transportation services continued to be limited to the rates established in the commission’s policy.
“According to a commission staff member, Mr. Murphy stated ‘we are different’ when referring to office staff and their responsibilities in regards to paying for full meal costs,” the audit stated.
The audit concluded with a list of recommendations to the commission to improve its oversight on financial matters. It suggested segregating duties related to the use of the commission’s credit card.