San Tan Valley Area Information

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Report: Former Pinal County sheriff, attorney broke protocol distributing RICO funds

Report: Former Pinal County sheriff, attorney broke protocol distributing RICO funds

According to the report, the Auditor General's Office found that former County Attorney Voyles failed to follow his office's procedures and guidelines when awarding community outreach monies.

The report also said that former Pinal County Sheriff Babeu and other county sheriff employees potentially violated the county's conflict-of-interest policies.

According to the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, RICO funds are generated by law enforcement activities that result in asset forfeiture.

Once the funds are seized, the proceeds are deposited into the County RICO funds and are used according to state and federal laws and guidelines.

The report said that Voyles, during the calendar years of 2013 through 2016, awarded almost $2.4 million of his office's and the former sheriff's local anti-racketeering community outreach award monies to approximately 225 community organizations.

The report said, for 75 of the 82 community outreach awards reviewed, it appears he did not monitor those community organizations to ensure the awarded monies were used for authorized purposes.

[READ FULL REPORT HERE]

It also said the County was unable to provide documentation to show that the Community Outreach Fund Committee evaluated the 82 awards as the procedures required.

While the current County Attorney ended the prior administration's community outreach program and implemented a new set of procedures for awarding anti-racketeering monies to community organizations, the Arizona Auditor General's Office recommends the County Attorney's Office ensure they have an effective internal control system over awarding monies and should develop and implement procedures that require reviewing and approving all award requests.

According to the report, former Sheriff Babeu and his employees appear to have violated conflict-of-interest policies when they participated in the award of community outreach monies to a community organization and failed to disclose their level of control over that organization's disbursement of those awarded monies.

Of nearly the $2.4 million awarded, the Arizona Public Safety Foundation received 31 awards totaling $683,406. That amount, according to the report, was the largest amount awarded to any community organization.

The report said County sheriff employees have historically been involved with the foundation's business including holding board officer positions, performing accounting functions, approving transactions in several expense categories, and holding foundation credit cards in their names.

The report also said the former sheriff and his employees disbursed $151,645 for unauthorized purposes benefiting former Pinal County Attorney and former Pinal County Sheriff programs.

As of May 2018, no county sheriff or county attorney employees were on the foundation board or involved in the foundation's activities.

The findings have been submitted to the Arizona Attorney General's Office for further review.

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