PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) - Port Allen Mayor Richard Lee has wrapped up his investigation of a utility employee accused of misappropriation of funds, and the employee has been fired.
The target of that investigation was a utility employee at the Port Allen City Hall. Sources told The 9News Investigators the unnamed employee signed two different contracts with customers, basically putting money towards their accounts and letting the customer pay it back over time. It was like a loan from the City of Port Allen without any interest.
Sources said the second contract was for $220 to the employee's mother. But then a few weeks ago, that account allegedly went from minus $220 to $0 without any proof of anyone having paid back the money.
The mayor and chief administrative officers were supposed to be the only people who could authorize those contacts. But we're told the particular employee did not have any authorization from the mayor or chief administrative officer for those payment adjustment contracts.
The 9News Investigators put in a public records request and while we were told the actual utility contracts are not public, we did receive a response, with part of it saying, "One of the contracts was fully completed satisfactorily even though it was performed by someone who lacks the authority to enter into this contract. The other contractual agreement was not completed satisfactorily and this money has not yet been recovered from the customer or the employee
who did it."
A Dec. 2015 audit warned Port Allen city officials saying presently, employees handling the utility bills have access to and can make changes to the customer's master files.
It went on to say, "Without sufficient segregation of duties, the risk significantly increases that errors and fraud related to the utility billing and collection process, including misappropriation of assets, could occur and not be detected within a timely basis."
The mayor said if they find the results of their investigation to be criminal in nature, he will turn them over to the police and district attorney. If they're negligent, he will handle them internally but some council members said the investigation itself needs to be handled by an independent agency, not the city's attorney and mayor.