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Former Sheriff Bob Fletcher's department audit nears completion

After Bob Fletcher lost his re-election bid for Ramsey County Sheriff last fall, many eagerly awaited what they were sure would be a revelatory change of guard with new sheriff, Matt Bostrom. One of the most anticipated revelations: A financial audit of the department.

Yesterday afternoon, a preliminary version of the audit was presented to three members of the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners, and a glimpse of its contents came to light.

During his tenure, former Sheriff Fletcher made lots of headlines with allegations of missing seized evidence and cars, and lots of shredded documents, as well as his ability to silence critics. So to those in the latter camp, an opportunity to snoop through Fletcher's books once he was out of office sounded like a dream.

Though it is not in its final, approved form, Ramsey County chief financial officer Lee Mehrkens says the audit was performed by an outside firm, KPMG, and includes a look at the past administration's travel expenses, cash funds and proceeds from forfeited property, among other things. And in its preliminary stage, Mehkens says things look ship-shape.

"There's certainly nothing major," he says. "It's all rather perfunctory stuff."

He adds that the contracted audit agency rated all of its concerns "low" or "insignificant" in importance -- mostly housekeeping recommendations.

That doesn't mean Bostrom's office is completely satisfied. Spokesman Randy Gustafson expressed concern that the audit does not include a look at special discretionary accounts, such as the former sheriff's take from the annual Halloween Fright Farm or a complete look at seizures and forfeitures before auction.

"We've appealed to the county board to authorize a contract with that same firm to look at these additional areas," says Gustafson.

But Mehrkens says that the audit, which was crafted according to state statutes, has done everything it's mandated to do. Any further inquiry will have to come out of the new sheriff's department's own pocket.

"If the sheriff's office wants to do additional audits or to drill down deeper in certain areas they're certainly able to do this," he says.

The final version of the audit will become available to the public once the draft is approved by the Ramsey County Audit Committee.


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