In a remote corner of Clark County, the Goodsprings Township constable is struggling to keep his office’s financial affairs in order, and even fired one of his employees amid embezzlement suspicions in 2012.
Constable Gary Rogers disclosed the October 2012 firing of the unnamed employee in his November response to results of a county audit of his office’s finances.
Rogers, who took office in January 2011 after running unopposed in 2010, disagreed with the auditor’s finding that he failed to keep a book recording fees in 2011 and 2012. He blamed it on two hard drives that went bad, and suggested something nefarious on the part of the former employee.
“During the month of October 2012 both of these hard drives were corrupted,” Rogers wrote in his response to the audit. “This coincidentally was the same time my operations Sergeant was terminated for suspected embezzlement and other similar actions.”
Rogers didn’t elaborate on the embezzlement suspicions in his response, or return calls from a Review-Journal reporter. Rogers’ statement in the letter left it unclear if the matter resulted in an investigation or criminal charges.
Among the county’s 11 constables, Las Vegas Township Constable John Bonaventura has attracted the most public attention by far. In March, Clark County commissioners decided to abolish his office, effective when his term ends in January 2015. That came after a host of issues that included jurisdictional disputes with neighboring constables, lawsuits from former staffers and a reality television pilot episode that featured foul-mouthed deputies.
Constables, who are elected, serve legal paperwork and conduct evictions. They have a badge and gun as sworn law enforcement officers. Their deputies are not county employees. The constables do their own hiring.
The Goodsprings constable’s office is a low-profile one, with the office covering Goodsprings, about 38 miles southwest of Las Vegas, and the nearby communities of Sandy Valley, Sloan, Jean and Primm.
The auditor noted that Rogers has no deputies or office staff. Rogers’ letter, said he has two reserve deputies who will work for him in the future. The constable also noted he has reduced his business volume, as he doesn’t have an operating budget. His only source of revenue is from fees and mileage charges for services, along with an annual salary of $998.40.
According to his website, Rogers has lived in Nevada since 1974 and in Sandy Valley since 1999, and worked as a general contractor and small-business consultant before retiring.
Quarterly financial reports show the office has pulled in relatively small amounts of revenues from fees for evictions and serving court papers. The office received $851 from January to March 2012 and earned $4,878 from April to June 2011, according to financial reports.
NO ACCOUNTING SYSTEM
Among the findings of the county audit:
■ In 2011 and 2012, Rogers didn’t have an accounting system to assure that revenue transactions and agency funds are properly recorded and documented. In 2013, the constable started recording transactions in a fee book, but failed to have the supporting documentation needed, according to the audit.
“Without an accounting system, controls are not adequate to safeguard assets,” audit director Angela Darragh wrote in a Nov. 6 letter. “Additionally, we cannot determine the completeness and accuracy of transactions since the Constable has not maintained sufficient records to support daily transactions.”
■ The auditor requested, but did not receive, supporting documentation for 17 of 35 checks written from the garnishment account. Bank statements from January 2011 to October 2011 weren’t provided either.
■ The constable’s fee book for 2011 and 2012 wasn’t available. This record is required under state law to detail the action and fees charged. Noting that Rogers had two hard drives crash, the auditor wrote that it is “unknown if the fee book was lost to hard drive failure or if the fee book was never maintained.”
■ Rogers also didn’t file quarterly financial statements with the county on two occasions in 2011 and 2012.
Rogers’ response gives the impression of a shoestring operation, lacking even an Internet connection.
He noted that he only handles the volume of business he can run from his home, and tries to maintain all records on two separate external hard drives, one for a backup.
“I really don’t know why the first two hard drives crashed,” Rogers wrote. “I don’t know if they were faulty or they were tampered with, but I am taking every precaution I can think of and am very receptive to suggestions as to some sort of better system.”
Rogers said he tried an online backup system but no longer has that option because he “can no longer afford the Internet.”
“I believe that we took every precaution to secure electronic records that any reasonable person of business would have taken and were hit by circumstance beyond our control,” he wrote.
He blamed the failure to produce bank statements on the bank, saying the bank had promised to turn over copies of checks and deposits but was unable to do so.
He said he will start keeping copies of checks he receives and follow the county’s suggestions.
Contact reporter Ben Botkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-405-9781. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1.