Audit report alleges former clerk bilked Oakdale of nearly $1 million
Oakdale, LA (KPLC) - The long-awaited investigative audit into Oakdale city funds is out and the findings are not good.
The audit claims that before her death, city clerk Melissa “Lisa” Schaefer manipulated computer equipment to give herself close to a million dollars over about seven years.
Schaefer worked for the City of Oakdale from 2002 until her death in 2021. The mayor indicated records before 2014 were not available.
Officials say she manipulated electronic devices known as “tokens” to take money for herself from the city’s bank account. The two tokens were meant to be in the hands of two different city employees, but the audit says Schaefer had both.
Through this process, the audit says Schaefer received about $770,000.
And then, the audit says she received more money by using city checks to divert funds to herself and by reimbursing herself for credit card purchases that provided no benefit to the city.
Mayor Gene Paul says it’s sad for the city and its people.
“It’s a very, very sad time for all involved and the taxpayers of Oakdale - the citizens of Oakdale. It’s just a bad, bad shadow on this city,” Paul said.
“When you have someone that you put 100% trust in and you find out that they’re being dishonest, it’s a pretty good lick,” Paul said.
Paul says Schaefer created false records to make it look as though the funds had been reconciled with city books.
“And she was making fraudulent invoices to plug numbers to try to make it balance out,” Paul said.
Schaefer died March 11, 2021, the day after the mayor says he confronted her about the missing money.
“And she said ‘Mayor, I need to go home for a minute. I need to get something.’ I said, ‘Sure.’ And she left, and she didn’t come back,” Paul said.
He says the investigation never revealed anyone else involved in the wrongdoing.
“I think she was good at what she did. She didn’t wake up one morning and decide this is what I’m going to do,” Paul said. “I think she had this very well planned out, and I think she was good at what she did.”
Paul says the city attorney is trying to recover the city’s money through the court system.
Paul also says checks and balances are now in place to try to prevent future wrongdoing.
He expects the council to hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday when they will discuss the audit findings.
To read the audit, click HERE.
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