AP audits reveal misappropriation of government bureau funds

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is fielding criticism related to financial misappropriation that resulted in at least two Utah employees pleading guilty to theft and embezzlement, KSL-TV reports.

According to an accounts payable audit cited by prosecutors, one former worker misused government credit cards to pay for personal purchases, including designer luggage and precision rifle scopes. However, an investigation into the irregularities is still ongoing.

Juan Palma, director of the BLM's Utah office, told the news source that improper billing accounted for much of the inconsistency, calling it "sloppy paperwork" as opposed to a more sinister embezzlement scheme.

However, the cases of Justin Johnson and Michael Dale Turner tell a different story. The AP audit revealed that Johnson, the rifle scope buyer, also used company funds to buy nearly $2,400 worth of gift cards and $1,800 in computer memory equipment. Meanwhile, Turner was ordered to pay more than $4,000 in restitution for misappropriating a government-issued credit card.

According to BLM spokesman Tom Gorey, the agency's internal audit may be supplemented by an external investigation. External audits ensure unbiased results from uninvolved investigators. 

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