Taylor Releases Lorain County Board of Mental Health Audit

Employee Spent More Than $19,000 on Utility Bills and Home Improvement

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lorain County -

State Auditor Mary Taylor released a special audit for the Lorain County Board of Mental Health (LCBMH) today which reveals that a former employee, Tamala Foor, misspent $19,935 in taxpayer money for personal utility bills and home improvements.  Foor’s employment was terminated on August 31, 2005 and the Lorain County Prosecutor is currently in progress with the criminal case.

“Stealing taxpayer money is a serious crime and those who break the law should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” said Taylor.  “It’s important that this money is paid back in full and it is used for its intended purpose.”

An investigation into Foor’s alleged illegal use of a LCBMH credit card was conducted by the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office and revealed that money was improperly spent for personal purposes.  The investigation also showed that Foor added her boyfriend and his landlord to the County Auditor’s list of approved vendors.  She was then able to bypass the LCBMH Family Stability Committee and send her personal invoices to the County Auditor’s office for payment. 

The LCBMH Family Stability Committee approves financial assistance for parents with children who have emotional issues.  The Committee helps ensure that children and families are able to remain united in the same home.

Because Foor disputed some of the findings of the investigation, the LCBMH requested that the Auditor of State conduct a special audit.  Auditors analyzed spending that occurred between December 1, 2002 and September 30, 2005 and verified that Foor inappropriately spent thousands of taxpayer dollars. 

The LCBMH has already implemented policies and procedures to address many of the issues noted by the special audit which include:

• Establishing vendors without the Director of Business Operation’s approval
• Creating and submitting generic invoices to the Lorain County Auditor’s Office
• Failure to verify that the Family Stability Committee had approved the expenditures
• Lack of approval from the Director of Business Operation of each voucher prior to payment

To ensure that these items are properly addressed by the newly established safeguards, the audit recommended that the LCBMH’s audit committee and executive director perform random reviews of the agency.

The Ohio Auditor of State’s Office is one of the largest accounting offices in the nation.  The office strives to ensure that all public funds are spent legally and appropriately and works aggressively to root out fraud, waste and abuse in public spending. Taylor encourages anyone suspecting fraud or misspending of public dollars to contact her office toll free at 1-866-FRAUD-OH (1-866-372-8364).

A full copy of the audit is available online at http://www.auditor.state.oh.us/AuditSearch/Reports/2007/Lorain_Co_Bd_of_Mental_Health_02-05_Special_Lorain.pdf