State auditor turns sheriff's department audit over to FBI

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

While former Whitley County Sheriff Lawrence Hodge sits in a prison cell, state officials are still working to figure out just how much taxpayer money was misused.

The state auditor’s office released two different reports yesterday. Auditor Crit Luallen tells Mountain News this situation is appalling.

One audit concerns 2009 when Hodge was still in office.

“Keeping records is a basic part of your responsibility when you are collecting taxes and fees,” said Laullen.

Auditors question more than $60,000 that was spent on vehicle repairs, all to the same vendor. The report states bids for that work were never advertised.

The office found Hodge then sold a car improperly to that vendor for $275.

Records show more than $5,000 was spent from the drug and alcohol account. Some of that money was spent to imprint pens that said, “Stay off drugs.”

Three thousand Halloween bags were tagged with the phrase, “Whitley County Sheriff Lawrence Hodge says don’t be tricked into using drugs.”

Auditors determined from 2009 the sheriff’s department owes the fiscal court more than $20,000 in excess fees.

“We have to finish the audit based on what we can see,” said Luallen.

State auditors couldn’t complete the 2008 tax settlement because there were not enough records.

“We had gaps that kept us from issuing a formal opinion,” said Luallen.

“This administration, we’ve had a complete change in the clerical system. We have excellent clerks,” said Colan Harrell, current Whitley County Sheriff.

Harrell said the department is now in order.

“We are doing the job that is supposed to be done,” said Harrell.

Luallen’s office is continuing to work on audits from previous years under Hodge.

The most recent ones released have been turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

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