A special cash audit critical of East St. Louis finances has led to a criminal investigation involving investigators from two state agencies, St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said Friday.
A cash management review, which is completed but has yet to be acted on by the City Council, prompted Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks to request a probe of two areas highlighted in the audit: The failure of a test sampling of 48 businesses to fully pay or make any payment of a 1 percent city tax on food and beverages and 10 months of missing tow reports that should have been filed by the police department, Kelly said.
Jackson-Hicks could not be reached for comment.
Regarding the missing tow reports, which are supposed to record data about vehicles towed and fees collected, Kelly said the lack of these records could affect criminal cases like drug arrests and charges filed in assault and murder cases.
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“We want to make sure there is no improper reason that could possibly affect a case,” said Kelly.
“We are working with the city and they are cooperating with us,” he said.“There may be no criminal element to this at all, this may be just a matter of bad record keeping.”
The state agencies brought into the probe to conduct the investigation because of the complicated requirements of the local tax and towing laws are the Department of Revenue and the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.
The cash audit was ordered by former City Manager Deletra Hudson who left office in July. She was succeeded by Tracy V. Chapman, who could not be reached for comment. It was conducted by the St. Louis auditing firm of Brown, Smith and Wallace. It was intended to find flaws and weaknesses in accounting practices and not to determine if money was missing.
The audit also reported that the city finance department failed to provide records needed to reconcile various public bank accounts, even though they had been asked for them three months earlier, and that the treasurer’s office failed to file monthly reports as required by city ordinance.