(This story was published in the April 10, 2019 edition of The Edina Sentinel.)
By Echo Menges
The Missouri State Auditor’s Office has officially begun an audit of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office at the request of the Knox County Commission.
A representative of the Auditor’s office began the audit on Monday, April 1, 2019.
Near the end of 2018, just days after former Knox County Sheriff Robert Becker pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal charges, the Knox County Commission reached out to the Missouri State
Auditor Nicole Galloway to request an audit of the Sheriff’s Office.
The request for the audit, dated December 21, 2018, is included below:
Ms. Nicole Galloway: We the Knox County Commissioners are requesting an audit to be conducted on the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. Regarding the guilty plea charges that Sheriff Becker pled guilty to during court on December 19, 2018 of sexual abuse and domestic assault, we feel it is in the county’s best interest to have an audit completed on the Sheriff’s office as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.
The request was signed by all three Knox County Commissioners, Evan Glasgow, Roger Parton and Ronnie Leckbee, and witnessed by Knox County Clerk Marlene Spory.
On February 20, the Commission received notice from the State Auditor’s Office notifying them the Auditor has agreed to audit the KCSO.
In a letter response dated February 20, 2019, to the Commission from the Assistant Director of Local Government Audits Kelly Davis, the Auditor’s office replied, “We have carefully reviewed the request, subsequent allegations that have come forward about the Sheriff’s Office, and the results of our last audit conducted of the Sheriff’s Office. The State Auditor has agreed to perform an audit of the Sheriff’s Office under the authority granted in Section 29.230, (of the Missouri Revised Statutes).”
The letter reply also states, “As in any audit performed by the State Auditor’s Office, concerns expressed to us will be considered; however, the scope of the audit will be determined by us.”
“Essentially, we decided it was in our best interest and the county’s best interest to request an audit of the Sheriff’s Office given the circumstances of the removal of the former Sheriff Robert Becker,” Knox County Presiding Commissioner Evan Glasgow told The Edina Sentinel.
“They accepted our request, but they will decide which way the audit is going to go. They have control of the audit,” said Eastern District Commissioner Ronnie Leckbee.
“That’s kind of the point, to have a third party come in and take a look at it with a fresh set of eyes,” said Glasgow.
Knox County Sheriff Allen Gudehus, who has been through a number of audits during his tenure as the Knox County Treasurer, prior to taking office as the Knox County Sheriff in 2013, welcomes the audit.
“I’ve been through several audits. I think I’ve had one when I was Sheriff before. Every auditor is a little bit different when it comes to what they’re looking for, but the general procedure, for the most part, is the same,” said Knox County Sheriff Allen Gudehus. “The main part of the audit is covering the previous two years. They’re also checking our procedures for how we do things now. I can’t speak for the past two years. I can only speak for the past two months.”
A representative of the Auditor’s Office spoke to the Commission when the audit began on April 1. According to Sheriff Gudehus, he and the KCSO Office Manager Brenda Simmons were interviewed by the Auditor’s Office upon the start of the audit.
“They interviewed us about our procedures, how we do things,” said Sheriff Gudehus.
According to correspondence between the Commission and the Auditor’s Office, the audit could include, but is not limited to, reviewing minutes, written policies and procedures, financial records, interviewing personnel and certain external parties and testing selected transactions.
The Auditor’s Office representative has been given a private space to work inside the Knox County Courthouse, while information for the audit is being collected. The representative will request and compile information mainly from the KCSO.
Once completed, the audit report will include the objective, scope and methodology of the audit, the audit results, findings, conclusions, recommendations, a compliance statement about the
Government Auditing Standards, a summary of the views of the responsible officials and, if applicable, the nature of any confidential or sensitive information omitted.
According to the Commission and Sheriff, the Auditor’s Office is expected to be in Knox County collecting information until the end of April.
It is unknown when the audit will be released to the public.
Correspondence between the Missouri State Auditor’s Office and the Knox County Commission can be found here: Scan Apr 10, 2019 Communication Knox AG