WASTE WATCHAlleged DNR Embezzlement
from Eyewitness News Online
Auditors Combing Through Purchase Records
June 24, 2013
Long time Division of Natural Resources employee David P. Smith is accused of embezzling $27,500 by using state money to purchase a man lift and then try to sell it for personal gain.
The equipment came to the attention of investigators as they were looking into Smith's alleged misuse of his state purchasing card.
Smith's supervisor saw some items on the P-Card which looked suspicious. He brought in the state auditor's office which in turn contacted the Office of Special Investigations.
Smith allegedly tried to sell the Man Lift to undercover officers for $21,000. He was arrested and charged with embezzlement. It was the P-Card which put Smith on the investigators' radar.
West Virginia Auditor Glen Gainer says the vast majority of the more than 6,000 P-Cards in the system are being used properly. He says since 2006, his staff has investigated only seven cases of fraud involved about $25,000.
Gainer says there are heavy penalties associated with misusing the card.
"Any misuse of a state or government-issued purchasing card is a felony under West Virginia law," Gainer said. "Even if it's a dollar. Secondly, all those transactions we were reimbursed. Those cards are insured by the issuer. So, all that money came back to the state of West Virginia. Thirdly, anytime somebody misuses a card and we have to go back on the insurance in order to collect on those costs, that employee is terminated."
Gainer says of the seven investigations his office has conducted, two are still active as auditors comb through records.
He says Smith, who investigators say has more than 20 years of service with the DNR, may be facing more charges as his complete P-Card purchase history becomes known.
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