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Audit of sheriff’s spending sought in Ogle County

Board takes no action on board member’s request

OREGON – Ogle County Board member Richard Petrizzo wants a forensic audit of spending by the sheriff’s department.

Petrizzo’s request came during Tuesday night’s meeting of the County Board. Such an audit would be more extensive than the annual audit of the county’s financial records.

But County Board Chairman Kim Gouker said the matter could not be voted on Tuesday because it wasn’t on the meeting agenda.

Sauk Valley Media reported last month on the Ogle County Sheriff’s Department’s administrative tow fund, which isn’t listed in the county budget and could be used at Sheriff Michael Harn’s discretion for various departmental needs.

Sauk Valley Media also reported on the Ogle County Sheriff’s Department’s credit card use, which included thousands of dollars in “training” meals at local restaurants, alterations to credit card bills, and personal purchases on county cards reimbursed directly to the credit card company.

Publicity over the sheriff’s department spending merits a forensic audit, Petrizzo said during Tuesday’s meeting.

He asked that such an audit examine sheriff’s department expenditures since December 2010, when Harn took office. Petrizzo asked for special scrutiny of the tow fund, credit card expenditures, and use of country travel and per diem allowances.

His motion came after Rochelle resident Tom Smith said during public comments that he, too, thinks a forensic audit should be done and asked board members for answers. Smith said he represented 12 people in the audience who shared his views.

Smith presented the board with a letter from Fred Cederholm, a retired forensic accountant who also lives in Rochelle. Cederholm’s letter explained what records are examined during a forensic audit.

“We’re looking for answers,” Smith said. “I don’t see this going away unless you people [the board] do something. We elected you to lead.”

Petrizzo asked Gouker whether the restriction against voting on items not on the agenda could be waived.

“Yes, but we aren’t going to when it involves spending taxpayers’ money,” Gouker said, referring to the cost of an audit.

No other board members commented on Petrizzo’s motion or Smith’s request.

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