Lee Zurik Investigation: Coroner financial chief's numbers don't add up

"It's unadulterated fraud," said one CPA.

"This is very damaging information," said St. Tammany Parish Council Chairman Jerry Binder.

FOX 8 News obtained the information: pay stubs and vacation request forms for the St. Tammany Parish Coroner's chief financial officer, Kim Kelly, who last year was paid $123,000.

Last year, Kelly filled out four vacation and sick leave request forms. They show she took about seven days of vacation and two days of sick leave.

But there's a problem. We compared the request forms to Kelly's pay stubs. She didn't deduct any of the leave from her bank of vacation and sick days.

"I didn't see any deductions at all, said Patrick Lynch, a certified public accountant who helped FOX 8 review the documents.

Last year Kelly accrued about 36 days of vacation and sick leave. But when she cashed out, she paid herself for a total of 48 days.

According to the records, she had leftover time from previous years. It could be because she hasn't been deducting her vacation and sick leave from her pay stubs. For 2011 and 2012, the pay stubs show she didn't take one vacation day, even though we have paperwork that shows she took off. Instead she cashed out all of her unused leave both years: $15,696 in 2011, $19,486 in 2012.

Binder said, "If you're paid in full and your accrued vacation hours goes up, and then that up-total gets cashed out at the end of the year, you obviously have then been paid double for those weeks."

Sources in the Coroner's Office say, as chief financial officer, Kelly is responsible for the payroll and timesheets. She's responsible for putting together paychecks and deducting vacation and sick time from employees' allotments.

Lynch says, by his analysis, the numbers on her pay stubs don't add up. He looked at the accrual policy for vacation and sick leave, how much time off Kelly earns per paycheck. Lynch compared that to the time she deducted for cashing out unused vacation and sick leave early.

Lynch says Kelly gave herself 11 more days than she deserved in 2011, and 51 more days in 2012.

One reason why: Look at the August 31, 2012 pay stub. Kelly cashed out 144 hours, paying herself $7200 in unused sick and vacation. But she never deducted the 144 hours from her allotment, her bank of remaining hours. Lynch says that's one of the many times Kelly may have paid herself even more money than she earned.

"It is a total mismanagement of the records or blatant fraud," said Lynch. "It could be sloppy bookkeeping, but Kim Kelly's a CPA. Her salary's in the 130-[thousand dollar] range. You would think she'd do a better job than that."

What's interesting is that this is the same pattern we saw with the coroner's own pay stubs -- no deductions for any vacation, getting paid instead.

For Dr. Peter Galvan, while his timesheets show no vacation deductions, he finally filled out the request forms.

On February 27, we detailed how Galvan took trips to Greece, Spain, Mexico and California's wine country. On February 28, a day after our story aired, Galvan submitted vacation request forms for those trips in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Binder wondered, "Who is this intended to fool?"

He says our latest findings about the CFO possibly paying herself tens of thousands of dollars illegally should have investigators moving forward, and fast.

"If this isn't enough for the state legislative auditor and the attorney general to have law enforcement pull all these documents out of this office and start proceedings – a serious, serious law enforcement investigation -- I don't know what is," Binder told us.


Next installment: Lee Zurik Investigation: Retirement plan gives Galvan plenty to smile about