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State auditor to audit Callaway County collector's office

State auditor to audit Callaway County collector's office

March 22nd, 2018 by Helen Wilbers in Local News

County commissioners have reached out to State Auditor Nicole Galloway and an audit of the Callaway County collector's office will begin soon, Presiding Commissioner Gary Jungermann said.

While the official request for an expedited audit of the County Collector's office was sent Monday, commissioners began the process Friday, Jungermann added.

"We contacted the state auditor's office last Friday," he said. "We knew we could get a rapid response audit, but we weren't sure (how to request one)."

Galloway noted Monday in a news release and in a one-page letter sent to Jungermann under state law her office audits the county collector's office when there's a change in the officeholder. She said the office can't begin that audit until Gov. Eric Greitens has named someone to succeed former Collector Pam Oestreich, who resigned last week.

In the letter, Galloway added state law allows second-class counties to ask her office for an audit of "any particular officer or office of the county" by having the county commission pass an ordinance or resolution making the request.

Galloway said she asked county officials to request the audit work to begin more quickly "due to the nature of the resignation and the troubling allegations," and to "get answers for Callaway County taxpayers."

Jungermann said commissioners didn't receive instructions about how to request the audit until 11 a.m. Monday, when an email arrived from Galloway's office.

"At 2:34 p.m., we sent via email the request and the documentation they'd wanted," he said.

The collector's office was closed last week when Oestreich submitted her resignation shortly after Prosecuting Attorney Chris Wilson and Sheriff Clay Chism contacted the FBI about what has been called "suspicious activity" in a Callaway County checking account the collector managed.

Wilson said Central Bank officials met with him Thursday to discuss the activity, but no details have been released.

In her news release, Galloway praised county officials for being "proactive" in working with her office.

Shortly after sending the request, commissioners received confirmation Galloway's office would begin work on the audit, Jungermann said. As of Tuesday afternoon, he had not received any additional information, he added.

County officials are unsure when the collector's office will reopen. In the meantime, county residents may bring a cashier's check or money order to Cole and Audrain county collectors.

Anyone with information pertaining to the investigation should contact the State Auditor's Whistleblower Hotline at 800-347-8597 or moaudit@auditor.mo.gov.