Wapato City Audit Could Result in Criminal Charges
The Washington State Auditor's Office has released two reports to the City of Wapato, ones that are given to cities and towns all over the state on an annual basis.
Sometimes additional audits are prompted if there's evidence of wrongdoing or issues.
Prompted in part by governmental accounting issues and strife and other activity, the Auditor's office looked at the city, and found six major issues. Now this week, officials are saying there could potentially be criminal charges filed if evidence shows there were deliberate actions pertaining to budgets, accountability, and covering it up.
Six specific areas of violations were found, including inappropriate use of funds, violations of open meeting act (where the public must be allowed to view city and council actions), nepotism (showing favoritism in hiring), inadequate internal controls, various non-compliance issues with state policies, and most troubling, a decline in city investment funds.
As of 2016 the city had some $2 million in cash and investments, but by 2018 that had dropped to about $75,000. Some have said this suggests improper accounting, spending, some even say embezzlement. A former deputy clerk was found to have funneled money to themselves, and that case has been turned over to law enforcement.
Also, the audit found that deposits made for various city services were misfiled or misappropriated and possibly embezzled.
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