A recent accounts payable audit revealed that the business manager of Iowa's Lake Mills Community School District used district funds to pay off personal expenses, including those related to travel and credit cards, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Office of State Auditor David Vaudt began investigating the district's expenditures under its former business manager, Christine Mathahs, after its superintendent noticed irregularities and became suspicious. The audit uncovered a total of $262,000 of inappropriate spending, including a trip to Orlando, Florida, where Mathahs spoke at a conference about best practices for auditing and fraud prevention.
Mathahs used the district's credit card to pay the full registration fee for the conference despite only being authorized by the school board to pay half, the newspaper reports. She also made the district foot the bill for a stay at a Disney hotel.
Additionally, Mathahs used district funds to pay off at least 12 accounts with credit card companies that totaled $212,000.
Although some of the expenditures were undocumented, others were fraudulently listed as payments for supplies, equipment, and special education.
Conducting regular accounts payable audits in conjunction with a system of checks and balances can help minimize embezzlement by making it more difficult to misappropriate funds and quickly identifying any theft that occurs.