A state audit has turned up almost $85,000 worth of inappropriate spending in the West Marshall Community School District. State Auditor Dave Vaudt says the state Division of Criminal Investigation asked for the audit after concerns were raised about West Marshall’s secretary/treasurer, Christine Davis.

"What she was primarily doing was issuing additional checks regarding her salary and her former husband’s salary, so that’s where a lot of it came from," Vaudt says. "But then she was also taking money from a special district account related to flex benefits for employees."

The state audit looked at transactions starting on January 1, 2001 over the next six-and-a-half years it appears Davis either wrote checks or made electronic transfers that shifted almost $60,000 from the district’s general checking account and another $24,000 from that other district account.

"It first surfaced by the bank calling the superintendent about a check from the special account that Mrs. Davis was making checks out to herself from and then their CPA did an investigation and once the DCI — the Division of Criminal Investigation — got involved, they requested our office’s assistance to put the facts together," Vaudt says.

The auditor says this is another example of an audit that found wrongdoing from the one person given total control over accounting and check writing. "We’re seeing that a lot of the frauds relate to smaller government entities and that’s primarily because there’s lack of segregation of duties because there’s a limited number of employees, but it’s also very important that each of these governments have oversight by others that are disconnected from the actual accounting process but take a look at the actual documentation," Vaudt says, "so I tell them all: ‘Trust but verify.’"

It’s likely Davis will be arrested soon in connection with the case. When the discrepancies were first identified, she wrote a $57 personal check to the West Marshall district, but that check has not been cashed. The West Marshall High School serves students in the communities of Clemons, LaMoille, Melbourne, Rhodes, St. Anthony and State Center. The high school building is in State Center.