'Incompetence, neglect and mismanagement' found in city, police offices, report says
The city of Cumby’s forensic auditor urged the council to turn over documents to the Federal Bureau of Investigation without delay, as a money trail revealed suspicions of theft, according to a report.
On Dec. 10, 2019, the Cumby council voted unanimously to undergo a forensic audit for city finances that took place from Oct. 1, 2014 to March 31, 2020. A forensic audit reconstructs past transactions to see if fraud has taken place, according to Small Business Daily.
On Sept. 8, 2020, the council informed their citizens they had received the results of the audit and mailed them by overnight postal service to the local branch of the FBI on Aug. 14, 2020.
The complete report is unavailable to the public as it is part of an ongoing investigation.
However, preliminary findings note that the current city government “inherited a mess by years of incompetence, neglect and mismanagement,” the document stated.
Examples of “issues everywhere” included “papers shoved into drawers, unrecorded bills and duplicate payments, checks issued and not cleared dating back to 2014, checks and money orders… undeposited and shoved into boxes, [and] unpaid bills totaling $180,000.”
The city also allegedly could not obtain documents from former city attorney Cynthia “Cindy” Humphries, including (but not limited to) eminent domain files, water loss reports, block grant files, finance reports, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TECQ) reports, TECQ written responses, TECQ violation notices, city ordinances, city agendas and city council meeting minutes.
“The files are the property of the city of Cumby,” the report noted. “The theft or destruction of… records is contrary to state law.” The audit recommended the city attempt to locate the documents or report their theft to law enforcement.
The audit states Internal Revenue Service 1099 forms are missing for years 2015-2017. The audit further states IRS W-2 forms are “lost, stolen or simply not filed” for the year 2017. All “books and records’ prior to the year 2014 “appear intentionally deleted from the city’s general accounting system,” the audit noted.
In Cumby Police Department possession is an address located at 102 Commerce Street, purchased Sept. 29, 2015 for $32,871.78, the report states. The city is unable to locate any written document needed for the approval to purchase this building, the audit noted. Furthermore, the audit said, it appears the city paid an amount for the property that “substantially exceeded market value when compared to other appraisal districts.”
The audit “noted a high number of questionable disbursements from the city’s [police] seizure fund that could not be resolved,” it said.
Cumby police have not had their seizure budget separately approved in 2019 or 2020, as is required by Texas Criminal Procedure Code 59.06(d).
“They [the FBI] told me we will not know whether or not they’ve picked it up,” Mayor Doug Simmerman stated. “Whatever they do is their business… if they do take it up, I don’t know how long it will sit on a desk before they do something.”
“We want to let our citizens know what is going on with this,” council member Julie Morris said. “It has been filed.”
Council members are not permitted by law to discuss the details of the audit further, as it was disclosed to them in executive session.
*An earlier version of this story misidentified the section of Texas law which requires a police to approve their seizure budget through city council. It has been updated to reflect the changes.