STATE AUDITOR’S OFFICE NEWS
State Auditor Colón announced the results of a special audit for an examination of misuse of funds and questionable expenditures by Mora County (County), specifically the Mora Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD). The special audit was designated after several allegations were communicated to the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) concerning numerous expenditures and reimbursements for fire funds without proper documentation.
The special audit engagement, through forensic examination, identified nearly $335,000 in unsubstantiated and questionable expenditures as well as numerous potential violations of law and policies including: fraud, forgery, embezzlement, possible kickbacks, and possible violations of both the New Mexico Governmental Conduct Act and the Anti-Donation Clause of the NM State Constitution.
“I am deeply troubled by the results of this special audit that details potential fraud, embezzlement and forgery,” said Auditor Colón. “An estimated $335,000 in taxpayer funds, appears to have been misused, misappropriated, and misspent. Money and resources intended to protect New Mexicans and our sacred lands from the risks and dangers of wildfires.”
The Independent Public Accountant (IPA) contracted to perform the engagement noted 25 findings concerning fraud risk including substantial funds unaccounted for as well as diverted funds leading to potential embezzlement. Items such as luxury flooring and approximately $18,000 on the purchase of boots as well as potential invoice and payroll fraud was identified.
The test work performed proved to be difficult due to hinderances including lack of documentation and difficulty finding necessary documentation for five fiscal years. The Special Audit Report notes deeply troubling and potentially criminal attempts to conceal financial and personnel files and documentation. As a result, the OSA has referred the Special Audit Report, which lists all 25 findings to New Mexico State Police and the Office of the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
“Nearly $335,000 of taxpayer dollars were used in what we believe to be possible criminal abuse of power and potentially violated of the New Mexico Governmental Conduct Act. I have referred the Report to the State Police and the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office for further review and potential prosecution.” Auditor Colón concluded.
New Mexicans concerned about potential instances of waste, fraud, and abuse should contact the Office of the State auditor. Reports may be made anonymously through our website at www.saonm.org or by calling 1-866-OSA-FRAUD. You may also speak to an investigator by calling 505-476-3800.