Hartshorne Residents Wary Of System After Audit Reveals Missing $2 Million
HARTSHORNE, Oklahoma - People in Hartshorne are still in shock after an audit revealed city employees are suspected of pocketing nearly $2 million.
Around 2,000 people live in the city of Hartshorne and more than 100 were at the elementary school Tuesday to get some answers and ask questions about the direction their city is headed in.
"I just wish I would've went with my suspicions and went through with it because we could've saved 10 years of all this," said Jimmy Wilson, former Hartshorne police chief.
Wilson said he got suspicious about the books 10 years ago.
"We weren't getting the money for the police department that we should've got on our fines. I went back three months and I couldn't account for $1,500," Wilson said.
A city finances audit shows that between July 2014 and 2016, more than $600,000 in utility payments weren't deposited.
And according to the audit, that's just the beginning of the financial troubles totaling a loss of nearly $2 million.
"They were embezzling a lot of money. They spent like they were millionaires," said Larry Williams, resident.
The audit found disorganized records that were incorrectly labeled and "missing," making community members cautious of the system.
"They're always going to be skeptical and of course there needs to be a little bit of skepticism because even if they trust somebody, what we say is trust but verify," said Gary Jones, state auditor.
"I don't think they will ever be able to pinpoint what was taken and it doesn't really matter," Jones said.
Now, the community is worried about moving forward.
"I just feel like we need to get in the solution. We know what the problem is and there's no way of going back and fixing any of that," said Linda Sweetin, resident.
The audit was forwarded on to Attorney General Mike Hunter's Office and the FBI is also looking into it.
No charges have been filed.
The women mentioned in the audit could not be reached for comment.