Former Administrator Jennifer Mahfouz of the Red River Parish Communications District issued herself extra paychecks totaling $17,112.00 and may have violated state laws and the Louisiana Constitution. Those are the findings of the Louisiana Legislative Auditor in a report released this week. (SEE AUDIT LINK BELOW)
Mahfouz was dismissed as Administrator on April 8th of this year. Possible improprieties came to light during the annual audit of the Communications District by a private accounting firm. Information the firm developed was turned over to the Legislative Auditor.
The audit’s Executive Summary states “District records indicate that from January 2015 to December 2017 Ms Mahfouz consistently issued herself paychecks prior to the end of the District’s pay periods and appears to have altered the District’s electronic accounting records to conceal her actions.” The summary said these actions “may have violated state laws.” In addition the summary said, “Further, by issuing herself checks before the end of the pay periods, Ms Mahfouz appears to have loaned District funds to herself in possible violation of the Louisiana Constitution.
The complete report from the Legislative Auditor is included at the bottom of this article.
Mahfouz was the only employee of the district and was responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the district, including paying bills and issuing pay checks. The audit says the issuing of extra paychecks was discovered by the district’s external CPA during the annual audit. The CPA notified the Legislative Auditor on March 1st. Mahfouz was terminated on April 8th.
The Legislative Auditor found that “Mahfouz routinely issued herself paychecks before the end of the District’s pay periods on at least 67 occasions. Some of these checks cleared the bank prior to the dates on the checks. According to the District’s accounting system records, Ms Mahfouz appears to have altered the dates that the checks were issued in order to match the appropriate biweekly pay periods.”
The auditors reported, “Ms Mahfouz told us that she did not realize she received extra paychecks and does not know how she overpaid herself.” She told auditors that she made some mistakes in writing checks and she tried to correct them. The audit said, “she received checks early because she was trying to change her pay schedule to alternate with her husband’s pay schedule. She further stated that on other occasions she received checks early because she knew she would be out of the office on the regular payroll date.”
The Legislative Auditor recommended the District consult with legal counsel to determine appropriate actions to take including recovery of funds improperly paid to the former District Administrator. The audit also recommended “the District revise policies and procedures to assure the same person is not responsible for issuing, approving, authorizing, and recording accounting transactions.”