BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - ?
The Louisiana State Legislative Auditor releases a scathing report Monday on the Department of Public Safety, including thousands of dollars in payments to the Office of Motor Vehicles being ripped off.
The report says three employees misappropriated more than $69,000 in payments made for more than 400 insurance violations over the last couple of years.
The money was paid by drivers to reinstate their licenses.
The auditor also says the Department of Public Safety didn't have adequate controls over its information technology system.
That system processes more than $700 million in state riverboat gambling revenues and motor vehicle sales tax money.
"We do have a concern, and the department shares the concern, that - is this going on elsewhere?" State Financial Auditor Ernie Summerville said.
Allegations of fraud at the Office of Motor Vehicles had state officials debating how to stop frustrating stories like this from happening to other OMV customers.
"It started off with people calling in to the main headquarters complaining, filing complaints that they've already paid their fee to reinstate their license or clear violations, and as they went along they were told they did not pay," Summerville said.
After losing the cash and wasting time at the OMV, the Legislative Auditor's Office says many customers complained to the Department of Public Safety.
An investigation lead DPS to three employees at three OMV locations: Chalmette, Hammond and the Westbank office in New Orleans.
"They would take the cash and then manipulate the computer records of how much they collect, and then they would keep the money. They'd misappropriate the money," Summerville said.
The employees are accused of siphoning nearly $70,000 and affecting more than 400 customers over at least two years.
However, Summerville said auditors found other problems that affect everyone who uses the OMV and the riverboat casinos.
"There's a lot of money going through, so you could have money not going to the proper place," Summerville explained.
Summerville pointed to lax supervision and programs with little restrictions that leave private information open to the public.
"We went and took at look at the systems that actually process the casino boat money and the OMV money and what we saw there were, we had people that had access to these systems, these computer systems, that didn't have a business need," Summerville said.
A letter from the DPS Undersecretary to the Legislative Auditors Office said, "OMV has implemented a computer fraud monitoring program."
The OMV is also in the process of transitioning offices from cash-only to credit card capable.
"Taking cash out of the equation helps dealing with cash there's always that temptation - especially when there's opportunities to take cash," Summerville said.
Regarding the three employees charged with the felony theft and malfeasance in office, the letter from the DPS Undersecretary also said:
"The employees involved have been terminated. OMV takes wrongdoing of this nature very seriously and is working with authorities to assist law enforcement in prosecuting any wrongdoing to the fullest extent of the law. OMV will seek complete restitution by whatever means are necessary to recoup these funds.”
Summerville said the investigation is ongoing, but so far there is no indication that the three employees worked together on the alleged crimes.
to read the report.
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