$25,000 Missing from Alabama Water Department

Feb. 20, 2003

Mayor Guin Robinson announced yesterday that an intensive internal audit conducted by city employees and Bain & Company Certified Public Accountants revealed at least $25,000 is missing from the Pell City Water Department in Alabama.

Cassandra Davis, 54, a former administrative clerk for the water department, is the prime suspect in the disappearance of those funds, Robinson told David Atchison, a writer for The Daily Home. However, no charges have been filed as of yet.

"This is a sad day for me and the city," Robinson said.

Robinson explained that the city called in the Alabama Bureau of Investigation to investigate the theft. The ABI was called in because Davis was a city employee who went missing for several days. She is the wife of Pell City's former Police Chief Joe Davis, who is currently captain of community relations for the police department.

"We have no reason to suspect any other employee," Robinson said.

Robinson said if a city employee misses five consecutive days of work without notifying the city, it considers that action an official resignation. Apparently, that was the case with Davis.

Davis disappeared on Feb. 10. Local officials conducted ground and air searches for Davis, who returned home two days later from a trip to Panama City, Fla.

Davis’ disappearance sparked a city audit the day after she was reported missing by her family. Officials feared that water department funds could be missing as well.

A week before Davis’ disappearance, a random audit noted a possible discrepancy in the payment of a business license and water bill. A company sent a $2,300 check early last year to cover both its water bill and business license. The check was for the payment of a $300 water bill and a $2,000 business license.

The Revenue Department did not have any record that the city received the $2,000 payment from the company for its business license. After contacting the company, it produced a check indicating it had indeed made the payment.

Apparently, Bain said, cash receipts were taken, and those cash receipts were later covered with checks from other water department customer accounts to prevent accounts from becoming delinquent.

Robinson explained that the city is examining and reviewing all accounting procedures to protect the city and its citizens. He said no water customer will be affected by this incident, and no customer will be doubled-billed. In addition, the city will recoup its money either through its insurance company or from restitution through criminal proceedings.

"I fully expect to recover the taxpayers’ money one way or another – all their money," Robinson said. "I hate that this happened, but how we respond to it is what's important now."

Source: The Daily Home