More county fair funds may be missing

File photo The Curry County Fair is held in August.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

More revenue from the 2007 county fair appears to be unaccounted for and a state auditor has been recruited to assist Curry County in the investigation, according to County Manager Lance Pyle.

Pyle said he discovered a discrepancy of an additional $2,000 to $4,000 in fair accounts a little more than a week ago when he was going through figures while preparing to give a presentation to the fair board. He consulted County Finance Manager Mark Lansford, who noted the same issue with the figures.

A $7,000 discrepancy discovered in November already is being investigated by state police.

District Attorney Matt Chandler said he is planning to present the case to a grand jury to determine if there has been any criminal wrongdoing regarding the missing funds.

“State police have conducted numerous interviews and collected bank and accounting records and other evidence regarding the missing funds,” he said. “In the very near future we will convene a grand jury and present the evidence we have to the grand jury to determine what illegal activity, if any, has been committed.”

The missing funds, not any specific individuals, are the subject of the investigation, he said.

In December, a search warrant was filed for the county treasury offices, records from the fair, and a personnel file and personal bank accounts.

The warrant detailed $7,200 that was missing from 2007 county fair revenues.

There have been no arrests and officials have cited an ongoing investigation.

Pyle said the decision to request the audit was made after a meeting with state police and the district attorney to inform them of the new discovery.

Pyle said officials aren’t willing to call the funds missing until the auditor has had an opportunity to analyze county fair accounts and are sure they weren’t misplaced or categorized incorrectly.

“These are public funds and the public has a right to know,” Pyle said. “I’ve looked at it, Mark Lansford has looked at it, the investigators have looked at it, and (now) we need someone from the outside to look at it.”

Pyle said he has a meeting scheduled today with a representative from the auditor’s office and is unsure how long the audit will take.