Fenton audit: Mayor still owes village $8,000 in overpaid salary

Fenton audit: Mayor still owes village $8,000 in overpaid salary

FENTON, LA (KPLC) - An audit by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office found that Fenton Mayor Eddie Alfred Jr. still owes half of the salary he was overpaid from April 2016 to September 2016.

Alfred told auditors that he did not realize he was being overpaid because he does not check his personal bank statements, according to the report.

The report also says Alfred only began repayment of the $15,000 in November 2017, once the Auditor's Office began its audit. He still owes $8,000.

Alfred told auditors in an October 2017 interview that he had just found out about the overpayments, but later said he had been informed in September 2016, but forgot to reimburse the village.

The report found several instances in which state law may have been violated.

Click HERE to read a summary of the audit.

Click HERE to read the full audit.

Here are the major findings:

  • Mayor received excess compensation: From April 2016 to September 2016, the Village of Fenton (Village) paid Mayor Eddie Alfred, Jr. $15,000 in excess compensation. According to Mayor Alfred and the Village Clerk, a clerical error resulted in Mayor Alfred being paid his $2,500 monthly salary twice each month during this period. This overpayment was brought to Mayor Alfred’s attention in September 2016; however, he did not begin repaying the excess compensation until after we began this audit in November 2017. By failing to pay back the excess compensation in a timely manner, Mayor Alfred may have violated state law.
  • Former clerk received extra payroll disbursements: From December 11, 2015 to March 10, 2016, former Village Office Clerk Shomikia Gradney received four extra payroll disbursements totaling $5,864. The Village had no documentation to indicate that Ms. Gradney was entitled to receive these extra payroll disbursements. In addition, we found that the authorized signatures on two of these checks appear to have been forged. By receiving payroll disbursements she was not entitled to receive, Ms. Gradney may have violated state law.
  • Police Chief Paid Improper Overtime Payments: From January 2016 through October 2017, the Village paid Police Chief Luther Alfred $21,669 in overtime without proper authority or adequate documentation supporting the overtime hours. Although Chief Alfred’s salary was set by ordinance, Chief Alfred’s overtime payments increased his salary above the amount fixed by ordinance. Moreover, Village policy required police officers to work at least 84 regular hours per pay period before claiming overtime. Chief Alfred told us that he worked eight regular hours per week then claimed overtime for additional hours worked. The improper overtime payments paid to Chief Alfred may violate Village policy and state law.
  • Traffic citation Payments Not Deposited: Records indicate that the Village received $5,195 in cash payments for traffic citations that were not deposited into the Village’s bank account between May 4, 2017 and July 31, 2017. During this period, Administrative Assistant Cindy Cezar was responsible for receiving, recording, and preparing traffic citation collections for deposit, and Mayor Alfred was responsible for depositing the funds in the Village’s bank account. Ms. Cezar and Mayor Alfred denied taking any of the missing funds. After the conclusion of our field work at the Village, Village management located several envelopes inside Ms. Cezar’s desk that contained traffic citation payments totaling $10,215 that appear to have been collected between August 2017 and December 2017 but not deposited. By failing to deposit traffic citation collections, Ms. Cezar may have violated state law.
  • Mayor borrowed village funds for personal use: Mayor Alfred acknowledged that he borrowed petty cash totaling $160 from the Village on two occasions. By borrowing public funds, Mayor Alfred may have violated the Louisiana constitution and state law.
  • Village improperly adjusted customer utility accounts and failed to disconnect delinquent customer accounts: From April 12, 2016 through October 23, 2017, the Village improperly adjusted customer utility accounts totaling $6,171 without adequate documentation to support the adjustments. This amount includes a $1,694 adjustment to Mayor Alfred’s father’s utility account. In addition, the Village failed to disconnect utility services of delinquent customers in accordance with Village ordinance. By improperly adjusting customer accounts and failing to disconnect delinquent customer accounts, Village management may have violated Village ordinance, the Louisiana Constitution, which prohibits the donation of the Village’s property and things of value, and state law. Further, by instructing Village staff to adjust an immediate family member’s utility account, Mayor Alfred may have violated state law.

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