Audit Finds Misuse of Forfeiture Money Under Former Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins

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The use of forfeiture money under the tenure of former District Attorney Craig Watkins has once again been questioned after another state audit found misuse of the funds and a lack of documentation within the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.

In a report released by the Texas State Auditor’s Office, state auditor John Keel reports a total of $80,048 in “unallowable expenditures” from the 2013-2014 fiscal year. According to the audit, misuse of funds included funds spent on traveling, legal and outside counsel fees, and donations.

Keel listed the expenditures:

  • A $47,500 legal settlement in fiscal year 2014. The settlement was related to a claim against Dallas County and the former district attorney.
  • Outside counsel fees totaling $16,525 related to a contempt matter in which the former district attorney was a defendant. The District Attorney’s Office was not allowed, in auditors’ opinion, to use state asset forfeiture funds to pay those fees.
  • Travel-related expenditures totaling $11,647. Those expenditures included hotel rates and per diems in excess of allowable rates, and some were missing receipts.
  • Donations and other expenditures totaling $4,376 that did not meet the provisions set forth by Chapter 59 regarding donations and expenditures for the official purpose of the District Attorney’s Office.

Keel also questioned more than $90,000 of expenditures he says didn’t have “adequate documentation.”

“The District Attorney’s Office did not ensure that expenditures of state asset forfeiture funds were adequately documented, approved, and monitored,” Keel’s overall conclusion said.

“I’m always disappointed when an audit comes out and it’s found anyone associated with Dallas County hasn’t acted in accordance with the best principles,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

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Source: WFAA | Marjorie Owens