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#367047 - 02/10/10 03:42 PM Tens of Thousands Missing from City Hall
Marty Offline

There’s money missing at City Hall again – except this time it’s not under-depositing – it’s pilfering of revenue collections – and the ones being blamed are clerks and cashiers – not any elected council official. The figures cited go as high as sixty thousand dollars and tonight three City Council employees are detained at the Police Department. They have been in custody since last night after what we are told was a revealing meeting in the Mayor’s office yesterday evening.

The three employees were confronted with evidence which showed them going into the data management system and adjusting entries. Our sources tell us that the data log shows that they changed dates and figures to make it seem that certain payments had not been made at all, or that they had been made for less than the actual figure. At that meeting, when confronted with the evidence, two of the employees – we are told – confessed to being in the scam and under pressure from the Mayor returned cash then and there. That’s when the police were called in and they were detained – which is where they remain this evening

It is another money mismanagement scandal at a council that has already earned a public reputation for fiscal irresponsibility. But this time, there are no political reputations on the line – so it’s being dealt with in a straightforward manner and the council is cooperating fully with police. This afternoon, investigators from the Crimes Investigation Branch were seen going into the council to have a meeting with City Administrator Kiran Vanjani who – we are told – has compiled the evidence thus far.

Councillor Phillip Willoughby was assigned to address the media today. He spoke first about how the fraud was perpetrated.

Phillip Willoughby, City Councillor
“What was done, one individual would backdate, back post, or maybe even remove receipts or invoices from within the system. So at the end of the day when you would print your balance, you would balance because the amount of monies that was removed or withdrawn from the register would not have showed up at the end of the day when it came to the balancing of the council’s funds.”

And according to Willoughby, the difference between what was actually collected and what was recorded was collected by three employees.

Jules Vasquez,
“Are you able to say what type of employees, if not their names, where were they posted?”

Phillip Willoughby,
“It would be the front line people, cashiers.”

Dwayne Moody, News 5
“Sir I understand three persons have been detained by police and particularly from the Revenues and Evaluation Department. Is that so?”

Phillip Willoughby,
“Accurate.”

Dwayne Moody
“Was around $60,000 missing, from the investigations that you guys have done, what amount is being shown as missing?”

Phillip Willoughby,
“I can narrowly speculate to say in that ball park figure.”

Dwayne Moody,
“I also understand that some money has been recovered. Is that so?”

Phillip Willoughby,
“Accurate.”

Dwayne Moody,
“About how much would you say?”

Phillip Willoughby,
“About $13,375.”

Dwayne Moody,
“How was this recovered?”

Phillip Willoughby,
“With cooperation from the employees.”

Dwayne Moody,
“The same ones that stole it?”

Phillip Willoughby,
“Your words.”

Jules Vasquez,
“Mr. Willoughby, were you involved in a meeting with these people at which time a confession was made and a return of these funds?”

Phillip Willoughby,
“Accurate.”

And so now, where do businesses stand, those that duly paid their taxes got a receipt – but then the books were altered and it was not recorded in the system or just part recorded. Willoughby wasn’t so clear on that aspect of it.

Phillip Willoughby,
“Yes you would be given a receipt, that is probable. It would be either way for you to voluntarily maybe come in to say that this receipt, see if this receipt has been printed or if this receipt has been accounted for. That’s one. If not then we know that that receipt falls within what is being investigated.”

Jules Vasquez,
“Do taxpayers stand to lose being that their either under-invoiced or their payments were under-recorded because I paid for a full year but only half was recorded in the system or none and so then it is as if I didn’t pay. Are those people in an injurious situation right now?”

Phillip Willoughby,
“The legal man will have to advise the council on that. I can’t speak specifically to that. I wouldn’t want to hold the council ransom based on what I would say here that no or yes specifically. It has to be a decision of the council.

Before a court of law I believe the receipts should hold up. This might just be a wider part of the general concept or principle of under-depositing. I can’t verify that, I can’t state that for a fact, I am just giving you an opinion based on the findings of the reports that were generated.”

And that means that at this point they don’t know the extent of the fraud. So far it only goes back to November, but it could pre-date that. Police continue to detain the council employees and charges are expected later this week.

And while the City Council is patting itself on the back for definitively cracking down on some kind of graft – and police are getting ready to charge - the mother of one of those detained employees and she says “not so fast.” Michelle Cattouse visited our studios late this evening to complain that her daughter Kera Ford is being unfairly detained because she doesn’t even handle money at the City Council.

Michelle Cattouse, Mother of Detainee
“Yes they have them on pending investigation for $60,000 which is missing and they are blaming it on them.”

Keith Swift,
“You believe she had nothing to do with it?”

Michelle Cattouse,
“She had nothing to do with $60,000. Where is Zenaida Moya? Why doesn’t Zenaida Moya come out and speak? If she knows that $60,000 is lost why doesn’t she make a change instead of having them under investigation for 48 hours pending investigation?”

Keith Swift,
“And you don’t believe your daughter is involved?”

Michelle Cattouse,
“She did not do that. She has worked at City Council for 7 years.”

Keith Swift,
“What does your daughter do there?”

Michelle Cattouse,
“She is an NHR….”

Keith Swift,
“She handles money?”

Michelle Cattouse,
“No she doesn’t handle money.”

And for balance we note that sources in City Hall have told us that Cattouse’s daughter was in the meeting with the Mayor and was one of those persons who returned money.

Channel 7
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#367083 - 02/10/10 05:08 PM Re: Tens of Thousands Missing from City Hall [Re: Marty]
Peter Jones Offline
This is absolutely extraordinary! Even a basic Quickbooks system doesn't allow unrestrained journal entries (adjustments). The people who should be hung out to dry on this one are the people responsible for installing and monitoring operational financial systems.

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