State Auditor: Shelbina court overcharged citizens, kept inaccurate records
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway released an audit on Shelbina municipal court in northeast Missouri that found disorganized case records and over a thousand dollars missing.
Galloway's audit was concerned with the court's operations. She said the court's practices increased the risk for loss or misuse of public dollars.
"My audit shows a court in disarray, with muddled financial records and a lack of oversight that allowed the previous court clerk to make decisions on cases that were not approved and not based on court rules or the law," Galloway said.
The audit found 83 percent of case records kept by the small municipal court were mishandled and inaccurate. In those reviewed cases, paper records did not match the information in the computer system.
"It is unacceptable for a public body to operate in this manner, and it raises concerns as to whether citizens have routinely received unfair treatment by this court," Galloway said.
Auditors said the court clerk was able to change tickets and fines without approval from the judge. This allowed the clerk to determine what was subject to fine and for how much.
According to Galloway's office, the clerk charged a defendant $200 more than the approved amount. The audit also showed in 22 percent of cases where tickets were paid, the clerk sought no approval from the judge.
In addition to overcharges, auditors also found a total of $1,280 in missing payments.
The state initiated the audit after the court's judge learned the clerk had overcharged citizens who received fines. The State Auditor's Office was contacted and the clerk was fired prior to the audit.