County officials seek drug money accountability
WALHALLA — Oconee County officials want to know more about the handling and accounting of drug seizure money by the Sheriff’s Office sumo wrestling suits for sale.
A Sheriff’s Office employee was arrested two months ago and charged with embezzling more than $500,000 seized in drug enforcement operations. Members of the Law Enforcement, Public Safety, Health & Welfare Committee directed Interim County Administrator Gene Klugh to research the issue pursuant to that incident.
“Are there laws in the books to account for drug money?” asked Committee Chairman Wayne McCall.
Councilman Joel Thrift suggested the possibility of the county tracking the sheriff’s drug-money account. After the meeting, Thrift said that every department in the county accounts for every dollar it receives through the treasurer, except the sheriff’s office.
County Treasurer Greg Nowell said Wednesday that his office gets money in daily. He said the amount is put in the books, entered into the computer and sent to the Finance Department.
Departments not located in the Administration Building on Pine Street in Walhalla, such as Rock Quarry and Parks, Recreation and Tourism, make their own deposits and give a copy of the receipt to his office.
Following the arrest of sheriff’s employee Kathleen Taylor on embezzlement charges, Sheriff James Singleton told The Journal that he has made internal policy changes in the way drug money is to be handled in the future.
Admitting that he should have had more safeguards in place, Singleton said he now requires two signatures for drug money to be withdrawn, and his officers must produce documentation as to how they spent the cash.
McCall and Thrift want to know whether some of the drug money could be used to offset the costs of building a new jail.
“That’s something we need to look into,” McCall said.
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