Ridgecrest clerk resigns after audit

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 24, 2001

RIDGECREST, La. – Pauline Palmer resigned as town clerk Thursday amid allegations she took at least $1,840 in town funds for her own use during a period of two years.

&uot;She requested we discuss the matter in executive session, and she submitted her resignation after we came out&uot; of the closed-door session, Mayor Guy Lain said Friday. The meeting lasted more than two hours.

Palmer has refused to comment on the auditor’s report.

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A report the Legislative Auditor’s Office released Tuesday stated that Palmer, town clerk since March 1997, had used the money to make a personal purchase, used petty cash for personal purposes and wrote herself checks she was entitled to from town funds. Auditors also could not account for $957 in petty cash.

Through interviews of town officials and others and reviews of town records, officials of the Legislative Auditor’s office determined that Palmer borrowed $722 from the town’s petty cash. It stated she submitted petty cash vouchers for expenses she did not incur, allowing her to keep $600 for personal use; paid herself $175 out of the town’s General Fund to repair her vehicle; and overpaid herself $120 for sick leave to which she was not entitled.

It also stated that Palmer used the town’s charge account to buy herself a $144 air conditioner, paid herself $45 in General Fund money to which she was not entitled; and received a $100 expense advance but failed to supply receipts for $34 of the amount.

Palmer repaid the town $195 in 1999 and $20 in 2000, leaving a balance of $1,625 still not paid to the town.

Palmer issued payroll checks to herself in advance 71 times and claimed overtime on 70 of those occasions but did not document hours worked, according to the report.

The report also stated that in December 1998, former Mayor David Cobb borrowed $92 from the town’s petty cash but repaid the loan in March 1999.

In the report, Kyle urged the District Attorney’s Office to investigate the allegations.

Palmer and Cobb could be charged with malfeasance in office and unauthorized use of a movable and violation of Article 7, Section 14 of the Louisiana Constitution, which prohibits such loans from public funds, according to the report.