LEFLORE COUNTY (KFSM) – A former LeFlore County water district manager was arrested on Dec. 22 in an embezzlement case, according to court records.
Karie Farris, former district office manager for LeFlore County Rural Water District No. 3 was booked into the LeFlore County Detention Center on Dec. 22, authorities say.
LeFlore County Rural Water District No. 3 serves customers in or near the unincorporated town of Whitesboro, according to a news release.
An audit was requested by LeFlore County District Attorney Jeff Smith and conducted by Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones, according to a news release. The audit included financial data from January 2010 through March 2014, the release states.
The results of the audit contained allegations of embezzlement and diversion of funds in excess of $72,000 for LeFlore County Rural Water District No. 3, according to the release.
“We were able to identify more than $45,000 in utility billing irregularities,” Jones said. “We also discovered more than $20,000 in unauthorized payroll compensation and almost $7,000 in questionable reimbursement payments. Poorly maintained or falsified records and non-existent oversight by district officials created the risk for the type of embezzlement and diversion of funds alleged here to occur.”
Farris admitted to taking cash from payments made by water customers, but she didn’t remember how much she had taken, the release states.
She said she had “virtually stopped depositing cash in the LeFlore County Rural Water District No. 3 bank account,” according to the release.
On March 29, 2014, Farris was suspended from her job as director, the release states.
“Over a 19-month period, only one cash deposit of $100 was made by the water district,” Jones said. “The allegation is that the former office manager took the cash, credited the payments to customer accounts and discontinued any reconciliation between collections and deposits in order to avoid disclosing her activity. Based on a comparison of recorded monthly payments to actual bank deposits, we determined that from November 2011 through March 2014 a shortage of $45,447 occurred.”
The LeFlore County Rural Water District No. 3 office discontinued its use of pre-numbered receipts and began issuing receipts from telephone message pads or available scraps of paper, according to the release.
“In addition to taking cash, the former manager admitted to personally processing payroll compensation over and above the $1,900 monthly salary approved by the district’s board,” Jones said.
He continued, “In additional to personally raising her monthly salary by $1,000 per month over a six-month period, we identified nine other direct deposit payments to her account. In all, she paid herself $20,650 more than her approved salary.”
Farris bonded out of jail the same day she was booked in, authorities said.
Court records state Farris owes $328.50 in court fees, and her next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2015, at 9 a.m.