Tuesday, January 11, 2022

State Auditor releases audit for Town of Bennington, finds serious violations

 

State Auditor Cindy Byrd Releases Audit for Town of Bennington

(Monday, January 10, 2022) State Auditor & Inspector Cindy Byrd has released her investigative audit of the Town of Bennington in Bryan County. After a thorough review of the town’s financial records, Byrd discovered multiple violations of standard accounting procedures and significant misappropriation of taxpayer dollars.

Among the most serious incidents of misappropriation are more than $100,000 in unpaid payroll taxes, unauthorized payments to several town employees, and a police chief who signed over the title of a town vehicle but the money was never deposited in the town’s bank account. Police Chief Kristopher Robinson also received $877 in free utility payments and was provided a tax-free residency that was not reported to the I.R.S.

“I use the word ‘misappropriation’ because it’s up to a judge and a jury to decide if this was embezzlement,” said Cindy Byrd. “This was a small-scale audit but what we uncovered is both important and revealing.  This audit shows taxpayers a prime example of what happens when an oversight board abandons its responsibilities. Their negligence set the stage that allowed employees to take advantage of other people’s trust and shortchange the taxpayers.”

The Town of Bennington has a population of fewer than 400 people and an annual budget of approximately $250,000. Also named in the audit are Clerk-Treasurer Kathy Wilkinson and Assistant Police Chief Randy Smith.

The full audit report is available on the State Auditor's Website here.

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