Last audits of former Lyon sheriff Murphy show concerns

Murphy

One of the two final state audits of former Lyon County Sheriff Kent Murphy released last week once again cites more than $1,200 in disallowed expenditures not reimbursed before he left office at the end of last year.

According to Kentucky State Auditor of Public Account Mike Harmon's report on the 2018 fee account of the sheriff, Murphy failed to reimburse $1,215 in prior years' disallowed expenditures to the drug fund.

This is a repeat finding, showing failure of the former sheriff to reimburse $787 in unauthorized expenses from the 2013 fee account and another $428 from 2014.

"The former sheriff had purchased items that were primarily advertising or promotional in nature from the drug fund," the audit report reads. "The items purchased were not for law enforcement purposes.

"These actions resulted in the drug fund account being denied funds that should have been used for law enforcement purposes."

The auditor's office recommends Murphy reimburse the drug fund account in the full amount from his personal funds.

Murphy, who served several terms as sheriff before deciding to not seek re-election in 2018, did not offer a response for the auditor's 2019 report.

In response to the 2015 audit identifying the two expenses, though, Murphy said they were for "rulers and pencils, which contained my name as Lyon County Sheriff and the phrase, 'Just Say No To Drugs.'

There was nothing political on the rulers and pencils, such as, 'Elect Kent Murphy, Lyon County Sheriff' or 'Vote to Re-elect Kent Murphy, Lyon County Sheriff.'

Murphy stated he believed the expenditures fell within the rule of law.

"A valid public purpose was served with the expenditures, which should be allowed," he stated in the report released in August 2017.

However, Harmon, who became Auditor in January 2016, did not consider the items to be allowable due to Murphy's name being attached to the materials.

The matter has been referred to Lyon County Attorney Lee Wilson.

Wilson could not be reached for comment at press time.

Meantime, Harmon's audit of the former sheriff's tax settlement from April 17 to Dec. 31, 2018, noted no instances of noncompliance and no matters involving weak internal controls over office reporting and operations.

Brent White was elected sheriff in 2018 and took office at the end of the year.

The sheriff's responsibilities include collecting property taxes, providing law enforcement and performing services for the county fiscal court and courts of justice.

The sheriff's office is funded through statutory commissions and fees collected in conjunction with these duties.

The complete audit reports, can be found online at https://auditor.ky.gov.