BAKER - Former Baker Police Chief Mike Knaps had for years kept secret police department bank accounts of seized money with little accounting, an audit released Monday shows.
The revelation, contained in the city’s annual audit report, appears along with other Knaps actions cited in previous stories by The Investigative Unit. As a result of those stories, Knaps returned to the city several guns that he had previously decided the police department no longer needed. He also finagled a way to have the Police Department trade in his taxpayer-bought truck and then purchased it for his own use in his retirement. Auditors said those practices may have violated state regulations.
The audit also indicates that the city has done an alarmingly poor job of tracking both money and property, to the point that auditors said they couldn’t evaluate the financial health of the city based on the available records. Some of the auditor’s criticisms have been made year after year, without much apparent improvement.
The city has juggled money from one fund to another without any documentation, authorization or consistency.
“The entries recorded by the accounting staff are totally inappropriate and incorrect,” the auditor said, meaning that the records are wrong, even after staff made additional entries on the books to correct prior mistakes.
For example, the city divides court fines and fees among several accounts with no documentation to explain how those decisions are made, according to the audit.
In dozens of instances, the auditors asked for records but were not provided with them.
“Without adequate financial records, management is basing its decision on incomplete and/or inaccurate information during the 2016-17 year, and excessive time is spent at year end in preparing and auditing the financial statements. Based on the materiality of some of these transactions, the City’s financial statements are materially misstated,” the audit said.
The Baker Police Department was discovered to have five accounts that neither the current or prior auditors had ever seen. One of those was for money related to narcotics and another was for seized assets, which courts can sometimes allow police departments to keep, depending on the outcome of a case.
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