Since learning of the theft of more than $153,000 in checks and cash last week from the Finance Department, the mayor has moved quickly to notify the public of the situation and the surrounding criminal investigation (click to see the press release and a video of a news conference). Yesterday, he began taking steps, as he said, to “regain the public’s trust in its ability to responsibly safeguard taxpayers’ money.”
From a news release distributed Friday:
Mayor Taps Anne Arundel Co. Auditor to Review Finance Dept. Operations
Annapolis, MD (06-18-10) – Mayor Joshua J. Cohen announces that he’s tapping Anne Arundel County Auditor Teresa Sutherland to conduct an immediate review of how cash and checks are accounted for and secured in the City’s Finance Department.
The City’s outside independent auditor, SB and Company LLC, is already in the midst of its annual audit, but the mayor requested Ms. Sutherland’s additional review in the aftermath of the theft of the $153,000 in cash and checks stolen last week in the Finance Department.
Mayor Cohen has given Ms. Sutherland broad authority to review Finance Department operations. Her primary focus will be on the cash receipt process to determine the proper internal controls for preventing a theft. The Mayor expects a report within 30 days. This review will not interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation.
Mr. Cohen worked with Ms. Sutherland when he served as a member of the County Council. The County Council has authorized her to conduct this review at no cost, as a courtesy to the City.
“The City must regain the public’s trust in its ability to responsibly safeguard taxpayers’ money,” Mayor Cohen said. “Teresa’s expertise will be valuable to help us identify any flaws in our systems and implement appropriate fixes. I am grateful to her, as well as to Council Chair Ed Middlebrooks and my former colleagues on the County Council, for assisting the City with this important issue.”
Ms. Sutherland is a certified public accountant and a certified fraud examiner. She has been an auditor for 27 years, and before becoming the county auditor, she worked as an IRS agent.
The mayor also discussed the theft in his latest weekly address (posted Thursday):