According to reports the Stone County Sheriffâ€™s Office allegedly misused approximately $71,000 in taxpayer money by spending money on guns, ammunition, a 55-inch television and other non-approved purchases.
Arkansas Legislative Audit completed its review of the departmentâ€™s finances and presented information late last week.
The Legislative Joint Auditing Committee questioned Sheriff Lance Bonds on issues discovered in the audit including bank accounts and disbursements from 2019 to 2020.
The sheriff was ask about the misuse of funds and reportedly stated he wasnâ€™t watching his budget and placed too much trust in his chief deputy. The sheriff went on to say that he contacted the Arkansas State Police to conduct an investigation.
The Stone County Chief Deputy resigned in March 2020 according to records.
Auditors found the following:
$15,729 unaccounted for spending for equipment and gun purchases, including $9,939 for weapons, accessories and reloading equipment and $5,790 for shooting equipment, a 55 inch television, sunglasses, body armor, fencing materials, propane cooker, game cameras, small kitchen appliances and numerous other items.
$12,033 in purchases without a business purpose or authorization by the sheriff, including over $4,000 for building materials, tools and other supplies.
$3,776 for shooting equipment, Tiki torches, Apple watch, propane heaters, a laptop computer, gun scopes, range finders and an iPad.
$8,640 in what was described as unallowable and authorized purchases, including $8,237 for gun accessories and night vision goggles bought in Feb. 2020.
The reports state that the county did not receive the items and a sheriffâ€™s office employee was said to have reimbursed the county for the amount in June of last year.
Another problem found in the audit was a bond refund paid to a released inmate in Jan. 2020. $5,000 bond refund was paid to a released inmate from the bond account on the instruction of an employee in January of 2020, according to auditors the inmate was not owed the refund. Staff obtained documentation found in the employeeâ€™s county email account revealing a vehicle purchased by both the sheriffâ€™s employee and the released inmate just days after bond refund, with a vehicle owned by the employee listed as â€œtrade-inâ€œ on the vehicle purchased. The employeeâ€™s email account also contained documentation of other payments to the inmate from the employeeâ€™s personal bank accounts according to the auditors.
The former chief deputy has reportedly written a $25,000 check to reimburse the county, Arkansas State Police have instructed the sheriff not to cash the check as the investigation continues into these matters.