| Crime |

DCCCD Is Having Trouble Finding Its Gas Credit Cards, Which Is How a Richland Cop Made Off With $16,700 In Fuel

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This spring, Dallas County Community College District's audit department began looking into the use of gas credit cards. Specifically, they were curious about record-keeping, the policies and procedures that are in place, and, um, where exactly they all were.

According to a report presented to the DCCCD's board on Tuesday, auditors created a database to see when and where the cards had been used.

"This revealed a large number of very unusual locations, sequential purchases and large quantities of gas purchased using several credit cards assigned to the police department at Richland College," the report notes.

Police Chief Robert Baker took over from there, performing an investigation of his own and eventually ferreting out a suspect from his 24-man department. That suspect, who the report does not identify, used police department gas cards to make off with about $16,700 over a year and a half. He was promptly fired.

If that gives you the impression that the district's oversight of its gas credit cards is incredibly, ridiculously lax, you're probably right. Auditors couldn't even find 10 of a sample of 64 active gas credit cards paid by the district. Those were promptly canceled.

The auditors' report assures readers that DCCCD is implementing new policies to regulate the use of gas credit cards and, ideally, make the embezzlement of large amounts of fuel much more difficult. Exactly what those policies are, why the district didn't have a mechanism for tracking card usage before, and whether the case was ever prosecuted, the report doesn't say. I've asked DCCCD spokeswoman Ann Hatch for some more detail, as well as the identity of the alleged thief.

Update at 2:26 p.m.: Hatch came through with some more details. The Richland PD kept the gas cards in question at first in a folder, then in a locked box inside a locked desk. The key to the desk was assigned to Officer Tonisha Johnson. When Chief Baker began noticing irregular charges, he reviewed his monthly budget report and initiated an investigation. Johnson resigned. DCCCD has not pursued any criminal charges.

Hatch is checking on the total number of gas cards the district has, as well as where they are kept.

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