WARRANT ISSUED FOR FORMER CITY EMPLOYEE, ACCUSED OF BILKING TOWN OUT OF THOUSANDS

Ch 9 - January 4, 2024 5:58 am

Pamela Lucas

An arrest warrant has been issued for a former city employee. Pamela Lucas is accused of bilking the Jones community out of tens of thousands of dollars.

Tuesday, the Office of the State Auditor & Inspector released their findings and determined that the Town of Jones failed to deposit municipal fines and fees collected from citizens over several years.

“We cannot let these things happen in our small towns that rely on these funds to provide critical services to the citizens,” said State Auditor and Inspector, Cindy Byrd.

According to an affidavit, allegations made in 2019 surfaced that accused Deputy Clerk Pamela Lucas of embezzling city funds. But even after she was terminated, state auditor Cindy Byrd said money continued to disappear. “Of this $59,000, $21,000 of that was misappropriated after this individual confessed, so, there are a lot of questions about what was going on in this office,” said Byrd.

The State Auditor’s office stepped in after the Jones Police chief sounded the alarm in 2020. “I’m appreciative of the individual who rang the warning that money was missing and that something needed to be done,” said Byrd.

Municipal court transactions were scrutinized. “We found that receipts were missing, some had been altered, we found some of the citation information had been lowered in the system,” said Byrd.

The OSBI said records showed Lucas “wagered $70,481 at a Harrah casino from 2016-2018.”

The state’s audit also uncovered a second deputy clerk and a town clerk– who’s currently on administrative leave oversaw the handling of funds. “The controls that were in place in this office, policies and procedures were abysmal,” said Byrd.

The Town of Jones issued a statement Tuesday that said it was cooperating with the investigation and that new policies have been put into place.

Full report from auditor: https://www.sai.ok.gov/Search%20Reports/database/Town%20of%20Jones%20Web%20Final%20Report.pdf

A press release sent out on Tuesday stated the audit’s findings:

“Oklahoma State Auditor & Inspector Cindy Byrd today released her investigative audit report for the Town of Jones in Oklahoma County. The Town Board of Trustees requested the State Auditor & Inspector’s Office (SA&I) to perform an investigative audit of municipal court transactions.

The audit found, between January 2016 and December 2019, the Town of Jones failed to deposit $59,683 worth of municipal fines and fees. The Court Clerk’s office received the money but did not deposit the funds and record the collections to the Offender Data Information System (ODIS) as required by law.

Court Clerk Tammy Wallace, and former Deputy Clerks Pam Lucas and Brenda Rowlett, collected court fines and fees for citations issued by the Jones Police Department. Town records, including citation payment receipts, were missing or unaccounted for, citation amounts were manipulated, and corresponding payments were recorded in amounts less than received from defendants. Many payments were deleted from ODIS, changed, or not posted at all.

“This situation was easily preventable. There was little-to-no oversight over the entire court process,” Auditor Cindy Byrd explained. “Court fines and fees are earmarked for the purpose of strengthening public safety. The findings of our audit clearly show that a person or persons in the Jones Court Clerk’s office abused the trust of the taxpayers by misappropriating a large amount of funds. As a result, the citizens of Jones are left to pay for critical government services that should have been funded with fines.”

According to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, agents interviewed Pam Lucas in November 2021. At that time, Lucas admitted she had misappropriated funds from the Town of Jones, altered documents, and fraudulently changed citation amounts in ODIS. However, of the $59,683 in unposted payments, $21,213 occurred after Lucas was terminated in February 2019.”

 

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