Friday, July 8, 2011

Audit Shows Ex-Sheriff Sold $73,000-plus of SF County Assets

According state Auditor Hector Balderas, former Sheriff Greg Solano sold $73,364 worth of goods belonging to Santa Fe on his eBay account.
Balderas' office in a press release said the audit, performed by the Moss Adams firm, showed that Solano sold "handcuffs, body armor, print cartridges, digital recorders, smartphones and dozens of cell phones."

The audit findings also revealed "an overall lack of policies and procedures at the Sheriff’s Office, including deficient controls related to the office’s evidence, ammunition and supply rooms," Balderas' release said.

"... auditors found that it was generally difficult to identify and locate items due to the clutter and disorganization of the evidence room, the evidence offices and the officers’ supplies room. Even though this situation was noted as far back as 2001, auditors noted that the problem seems to have progressed. Auditors also found that the evidence lockers leave evidence susceptible to theft, and Solano and one Sergeant periodically overrode controls by walking in and out of the evidence locker room area without signing in or out. Moreover, auditors found that the Sheriff’s Office does not adequately discourage theft in key risk areas such as in the supply, ammunition, inventory and asset areas."

Among the other findings:

• The half door blocking the evidence offices and officers’ supply room is not locked and auditors noted that, at times, personnel entered restricted areas without question;
• There is no inventory of unit equipment in the shed held by Fleet Management, and auditors noted Solano sold a rotating police light, light-bar controllers, a light PA control box and a light panel on Ebay;
• The Sheriff’s Office has not adequately addressed the backlog of evidence needing to be logged, filed and properly secured;
• The County does not have a scale to weigh the drugs upon arrival for future inventories; and
• There are times that staff is ordered to release property from the evidence room without the proper paperwork completed and signed off.

In May Solano's lawyer Brooke Gamble said that the former sheriff, who resigned late last year because of the theft investigation, will plead guilty. But she and prosecutor Matt Chandler of Clovis said a plea couldn't be accepted until an audit was completed.

Solano is charged with 251 counts of embezzlement and one count of fraud.

Balderas is running for U.S. Senate.

(Full disclosure: Lawyer Gamble represented one of my family members in an unrelated matter more than a year ago.)