1/8/2006Louisiana: Small Town Mayor Pockets Traffic Fines
An audit of village funds in Bonita, Louisiana shows the mayor has been pocketing traffic fines.
An audit of the Bonita, Louisiana town finances for the last fiscal year suggests its mayor, Virgil Penn, has been pocketing traffic fines. Last Tuesday, accountant Rosie Harper delivered a report to the board of Aldermen containing nine violations of state law or accounting practices.
In one case, a $225 traffic ticket was paid with a cashier's check made out to the mayor. The mayor later endorsed the check at a retail store, without ever depositing the money in the village account and without providing a receipt. Another $166 ticket was made payable to Penn, who took the money, signed the back of the ticket "Pd $166" and never sent the money to the village. The ticket was then voided. Penn called both incidents an oversight and an "honest mistake."
The auditor's report went on to note that Penn violated state law by failing to keep any record of traffic tickets heard in the mayor's court. The report also questioned Penn's practice of taking cash out of the court fund used to pay police informants.
State Representative Charles McDonald has asked Legislative Auditor Steve Theriot to investigate further. "Even if this just happened once, it's theft," McDonald told the Bastrop Daily Enterprise.