The district manager of San Mateo County, California's mosquito and vector control district was recently placed on a performance improvement plan following the alleged embezzlement of more than $635,000, the San Mateo Daily Journal reports.
After a trustee from the city of San Carlos questioned expenses in the district's pesticide account last year, an outside accounts payable audit was conducted that implicated former finance director Joanne Seeney and former accounting assistant Vika Sinipata.
The AP audit found that the pair misappropriated the funds between 2009 and 2011 using a variety of methods, including raising pay rates without authorization, receiving compensation for fraudulent time off, using district credit cards for unapproved purchases and electronically transferring district funds into personal accounts.
In December, the two were subsequently charged with eight counts of embezzling public money.
After the scheme was revealed, district manager Robert Gay implemented new policies, including a criminal history background check for employees. However, San Carlos Mayor Andy Klein called for him to be placed on a performance improvement plan after district management's response was found to be unsatisfactory.
Accountants can use their skills to facilitate embezzlement. However, establishing a system that includes regular AP audits and adequate division of duties can mitigate the potential for misappropriation.