New Audit Committee Created in Light of Embezzlement Case

Amherst, VA - Amherst County has created a new committee in light of the recent embezzlement scandal involving the former treasurer.

At their last work session, the board of supervisors created a new audit committee to set up safeguards in various departments.

When Garry Friend took over as county treasurer last year, he inherited an operating budget that was $67,000 in the hole and an office he calls "mismanaged" and lacking oversight.

As head of this new audit committee, he'll study new safety measures to keep the public's trust.

"The county's money is certainly much safer now with the steps and changes that have been made to date," said Clarence Monday, an Amherst County administrator.

When Evelyn Martin was charged with embezzlement and money laundering in June, county officials began questioning how missing money went undetected for so long.

"We as a county have become more aware of internal controls," said Garry Friend.

As head of the newly-formed audit committee, Friend will look for even more answers to more questions.

It isn't just the treasurer's office that will be on this committee. The offices of accounting, the school system, public utilities and social services will have a representative.

"This act by the board of supervisors to appoint this committee and to look further at the county's internal control measures is another step in the right direction," added Monday.

The committee will meet with auditors on October 18 to consider adding further checks and balances and hopefully shut the door on another opportunity for fraud.

"It's like the fox in the hen house. The door is open and the fox has his foot in the door," added Friend.

Friend says this has been a learning experience not only for the county, but for treasurer's offices across the state. Right now, he's working with the treasurer's association to add more red flag management training. He says it's training that could have identified fraud within his own office much sooner.