Audit slams north St. Louis County fire department
By Adam Allington, St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis – Millions of dollars in unaccounted funds, illegal budget maneuvering and cronyism are just some of the allegations state auditors have leveled against leaders of a suburban St. Louis fire department.
Auditor Susan Montee has sent her review of the Northeast Ambulance and Fire Protection District to prosecutors for further investigation.
Montee's report did not mince words in describing a system of suspect management practices that moved money between bank accounts without reason, and without documenting how that money was spent.
Of particular note was a lucrative arrangement between the district and its attorney, Elbert Walton.
In one case, Montee notes a potential conflict of interest involving Walton's wife, former State Rep. Juanita Walton, and the district's new half-million dollar headquarters.
"There is also no conflict of interest policy," Montee said. "The building was purchased using the wife of legal counsel as the real estate agent of record for the district."
The audit also detailed the withholding of hundreds of thousands of dollars from firefighter pension and ambulance funds.
Montee also said the district board illegally used employees and equipment to campaign for a bond issue. She said taxpayer money was used to put the issue on the ballot four times, each time ending in defeat.
The audit began with a request by former Gov. Matt Blunt.
Two attorneys for the board showed up to hear Montee, but left as she was still speaking.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.