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State audit finds $14,000 in fraudulent purchases at Dept. of Ecology

By Jordan Schrader — Staff writer
The Olympian

Posted 8/4/2013

Olympia, WA – A state audit released today found at least $14,664 in fraudulent purchases on state credit cards controlled by a then-employee of the Department of Ecology.

The employee, who was a secretary supervisor in the Washington Conservation Corps, was sentenced to 30 days of electronic home monitoring last May after a conviction for second-degree theft.

Peta Crites, of Olympia, made an Alford plea, in which a defendant doesn’t admit guilt. She agreed to pay her former employer $2,500.

The audit said the employee had resigned two years earlier after being placed on home assignment amid the investigation.

The audit by State Auditor Troy Kelley’s office found misappropriation of $14,664 and questioned another $8,130.

The money was supposed to pay for food for work crews around the state. But auditors said the secretary took over custody of credit cards, then made purchases that she recorded as if they were made by crew supervisors.

The purchases included some prohibited items, including alcohol, bath salts, tanning oil, makeup remover, weekly magazines and fire logs.

The audit faulted the department for allowing a single worker to have sole custody of cards and review transactions, and allowing accounts to be paid without itemized receipts. The Ecology Department said in a response it has made changes:

“Issuance and monitoring of purchase cards is now centralized and custody of unassigned cards has been strengthened,” the agency said.

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