Beauregard PJ gets D grade on audit - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Beauregard PJ gets D grade on audit

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On Monday, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor will make public the financial audit of the Beauregard Police Jury, for which the jury gets a grade of D. The below average grade stems from an investigative audit of a longtime employee who has now retired.

The D grade on the Police Jury's financial audit stems from activities of former public works director Elton Pickering. Among other things, the audit findings includes: Alleged improper sales and donation of police jury property, personal use of a police jury vehicle, burial of asbestos on Police Jury property and alleged violations of the state public bid law.

However, Police Jury President Biscuit Smith said when jurors became suspicious of possible wrongdoing, they called the district attorney who notified the auditor.

"As soon as we noticed that something was going on, that's why it's a D grade is because no legislative auditor found this. We found it. We wanted it cleaned up. We wanted it taken care of. Everyone worked diligently with the legislative auditors to clean up this mess," said Smith.

One allegation has to do with about $1,500 Pickering allegedly received for selling Police Jury owned timber and tires. He turned in the money four months later when the audit began.

Parish Secretary-Treasurer Tayra DeHoven said he did return the money.

"He did come in and say he had put it in the console of the truck, which is in the report, and he was out a lot during those couple of months because of health issues and he said that he forgot about it, remembered it was there and so he brought it in," said DeHoven.

DeHoven said policies and procedures are in place to assure better accountability in the future.

"We've made changes based on suggestions by the legislative auditors and our personal auditors," said DeHoven.

And she said they dispute that Pickering used his parish vehicle for personal use because he was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The audit report includes a letter from Pickering's attorney suggesting that the longtime Beauregard Parish employee did not deliberately do anything wrong and has lived a life dedicated to public service.

The Beauregard District Attorney's Office has recused itself from reviewing the auditor's findings so the report will be sent to the Louisiana Attorney General's Office.

Parish officials said within the next few weeks, they plan to advertise for a parish administrator - public works director who will replace Pickering.

For a link to the audit involving Pickering's activities, click here.

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