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Audit: $22,484 stolen from Ridgecrest

Ridgecrest — State auditors allege Ridgecrest’s former town clerk stole $22,484 in town utility deposits between January and August.

The allegation came in an audit report released Monday by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office.

Purpera said the scheme was not complex, and his office put in about 250 hours in reviewing the matter, which was brought to his attention by Ridgecrest Mayor Dwayne Sikes.

The investigative audit report claims Shannon Beatty admitted taking cash from the utility deposits. The audit said she was fired in August “for workplace misconduct, including, but not limited to, job abandonment.”

“The town collected utility payments of $121,957 in the eight-month period but only $99,473 of the collections was deposited into a Ridgecrest checking account,” according to the audit. “The rest of the money was not deposited in the account, and Ms. Beatty acknowledged in a written statement taking the $22,484 for her personal use.”

The audit states when Beatty took the funds from a deposit, she would destroy the original deposit slip prepared by a part-time water clerk and replace it with a deposit slip she prepared to conceal the missing cash.

Town records show Beatty prepared 26 deposits in the eight-month period that did not match daily collection totals.

The completed audit has been forwarded to the Seventh Judicial District Attorney’s Office for review.

District Attorney Brad Burget said his office would review the audit findings this month before making a decision on prosecution.

“Potentially, we may put it in front of the grand jury and let the grand jury decide, because it is somewhat political because of the town,” Burget said.

The audit recommended the town seek recovery of the $22,484, ensure all funds collected are accurately recorded and deposited the same day they are collected and monthly reconciliations should be done between the general ledger and the electronic payments register.

The Ridgecrest Board of Aldermen fired Beatty Aug. 29 after she failed to show up for work. At the time, Sikes said Beatty last came to work on Aug. 23, but declined to comment further.

Attempts to reach Sikes and Beatty for comment Monday were unsuccessful.

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