Mora County audit shows nearly $335K of questionable expenditures, possible violations

Politics - Government

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – State Auditor Brian Colón has announced the results of a special audit for the inspection of the misuse of funds and questionable spending by Mora County, specifically the Mora Volunteer Fire Department. In a press release, the New Mexico Office of the State Auditor states that the audit was designated after severe allegations were communicated to the office regarding numerous expenditures and reimbursements for fire funds without proper documentation.

Through forensic examination, the office reports that the special audit identified nearly $335,000 in unsubstantiated and questionable expenditures in addition to several potential violations of law and policies including fraud, forgery, embezzlement, possible kickbacks, and possible violations of the New Mexico Governmental Conduct Act and the Anti-Donation Clause of the New Mexico State Constitution.

“I am deeply troubled by the results of this special audit that details potential fraud, embezzlement, and forgery”, said Auditor Colón in a statement. “An estimated $335,000 in taxpayer funds appears to have been misused, misappropriated, and misspent. Money and resources intended to protect New Mexicans and our sacred lands from the risks and dangers of wildfires.”

The Independent Public Accountant contracted to perform the audit noted 25 findings concerning fraud risk including substantial funds unaccounted for and diverted funds leading to potential embezzlement. Items like luxury flooring and about $18,000 on the purchase of boots in addition to potential invoice and payroll fraud was identified.

The Office of the State Auditor reports that the test work performed proved to be difficult due to obstacles such as lack of documentation and difficulty finding necessary documentation for five fiscal years. The office states that the Special Audit Report shows deeply troubling and potentially criminal attempts to conceal financial and personnel files and documentation.

“Nearly $335,000 of taxpayer dollars were used in what we believe to be possible criminal abuse of power and potentially violated the New Mexico Governmental Conduct Act. I have referred the Report to the State Police and the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office for further review and potential prosecution,” said Colón in a press release.

New Mexicans who are concerned about possible waste, fraud, and abuse are asked to contact the Office of the State Auditor. Anonymous reports can be made online at saonm.org or by calling 1-866-OSA-FRAUD. You can also speak to an investigator by calling 505-476-3800.

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