Embezzlement by Public Officials “Pervasive” Says Auditor
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX) - Fraud, waste and outright stealing by public officials goes on, in auditor Tom Schweich’s words, “all over the state.”
“We know there is a lot of waste in government, people who don’t do their jobs well. That’s been well documented but the number of people who just steal cash is just startling.” Schweich told KMOX’s Mark Reardon on Wednesday.
Everyone from clerks, to tax collectors to sheriff’s deputies have stolen money. Since Schweich took office less than four years ago, 28 public officials were caught embezzling.
He calls it so pervasive that he established an anti embezzlement training program to help his auditors spot someone who is stealing money.
He says one tax collector pocketed $568,000 and a sheriff’s deputy stole $18,000 from inmates accounts.
The tax collector who allegedly took $568,000 was “pocketing cash from farmers paying their property taxes, marking them delinquent on the books but giving them a receipt showing they’d paid their taxes,” said Schweich.
Schweich said since he has been in office, there has been$ 2.3 million in missing or stolen money.
He says the state got about half of it back. Fifteen have been charged with crimes and there have been nine convictions.
Schweich encourages anyone who spots fraud, waste or theft to contact the state auditor’s hotline at 800-347-8597. Information received is confidential.
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