Accounts payable audit leads to fraud and embezzlement charges

A former planning consultant has been arrested and charged with embezzlement and fraud after an accounts payable audit revealed she used more than $20,000 in government funds for personal expenses.

According to The Associated Press, Annette Morales signed a $1 million contract with the city of Sunland Park, New Mexico, in March 2011. Morales' company, Medius Inc., agreed to provide the framework for an international border crossing. Morales received half of the money before the city terminated the contract last September due to unsatisfactory work performance. After conducting an AP audit that reviewed Medius' financial documents, investigators allege that Morales spent more than half of the funds received on personal items, states the source.

These purchases included several vehicles, improvements for her home, restaurant meals, drinks and various other unrelated charges, reports the Las Cruces Sun-News. Morales has defended herself against the charges and stated the city turned against her when she refused to hire politically-connected individuals. When Sunland Park ended the contract, Morales filed a civil lawsuit, claiming the city had violated the agreement. The suit is still pending, according to the news source.

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