Kremlin audit turns up several irregularities

Donna Ellen Rainey

KREMLIN, Okla. — An audit requested by residents of Kremlin turned up several irregularities, including some involving the former town clerk-treasurer who pleaded guilty in November to a charge of embezzlement of public money from her time as town clerk-treasurer in Hunter.

The audit, which covered the period from July 1, 2016, to Dec. 31. 2018, was done by Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd’s office and was released Thursday.

Donna Ellen Rainey, who at one time was town clerk-treasurer of both Kremlin and Hunter, was named in two findings from the audit of Kremlin.

In November, Rainey pleaded guilty to one charge of embezzlement of public money related to her time in office in Hunter. She was accused of issuing herself $29,0783.15 for personal use and possession between Nov. 1, 2015, and April 9, 2019.

She received a four-year deferred sentence and was ordered to pay $30,000 restitution to the town of Hunter.

Because of that case, the Kremlin audit was expanded to include “an evaluation of payroll for an additional 24-months.” The audit showed that from July 1, 2014, to March 30, 2019, Rainey “was issued $96,000 in payroll payments” from the town of Kremlin and Kremlin Public Works Authority.

Rainey was found to have received three improper payroll payments for a total of $1,175 in July 2015 and did not keep documentation to support time worked, according to the audit. The audit showed she was overpaid by $750 from the general fund and $425 from Kremlin Public Works Authority.

“Rainey was also paid for her elected clerk-treasurer position at a rate exceeding the approved amount set by ordinance, resulting in excess pay of $13,500,” according to the audit.

According to the audit, compensation for elected town officials is set by ordinance. Kremlin’s ordinance showed the town clerk-treasurer would be paid $275 each pay period. However, it also showed Rainey was paid varying rates from July 2014 to March 2019.

According to the audit, Rainey was paid $26,250 from July 2014 to May 2017, when her pay should have been $19,250; she was paid $9,600 from June 2017 to May 2018, when her pay should have been $6,600; and she was paid $9,000 from June 2018 to March 2019, when she should have been paid $5,500. That comes to an overpayment of $13,500, according to the audit.

Other findings of the Kremlin audit show:

• The town of Kremlin “did not prepare budgets or utilize a purchase order system as required by law.”

More than $77,000 in funds were spent without board approval, and more than $6,000 “was spent without supporting documentation, resulting in the inability to determine if the expenditures were for a public purpose.”

• Kremlin Volunteer Fire Department “operated independent of the Town and maintained a bank account outside of the Town’s authority. The Department also purchased $3,500 in gift cards, an expenditure that did not appear to be for a public purpose.”

The audit found the fire chief was not required to submit expenditures to the town board for approval. The clerk-treasurer and mayor were allowed to sign checks but did not have to present payments to the town board for approval.

The 15 gift cards were from Academy Sports + Outdoors and were given to volunteer firefighters as Christmas presents, according to the audit. The clerk-treasurer and mayor signed the check with the fire chief, but did not get town board approval.

• Utility billing records were not maintained. “More than $3,000 in utility payments could not be traced to deposits and adjustments totaling almost $11,000 were made to customer accounts without supporting documentation or board approval.”

• Community center rental fees of $1,250 “could not be traced to deposits and monies from all sources of collections were not deposited daily as required.”

• The town board allowed Rainey “to conduct official town business and maintain town records at her private residence, limiting the public’s access to the official records of the town.” Records were not maintained, were destroyed or were removed from town hall.

• The town board violated the Open Meeting Act, “conducting some items of business improperly.”

“It also could not be determined if meeting agendas were properly and timely posted,” according to the audit.

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