Chairman: Report sheds little light on question of criminal activity
By Joe Beck -- email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL -- An expensive audit of the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging has been completed with no bombshells in its findings, the board chairman said Thursday.
The details of the audit won't be released publicly until the next board meeting, but John Hudson said it sheds little new light on the question of whether internal criminal behavior played a role in a financial crisis that hit the agency in September and has hobbled it since.
Hudson said he received the draft late last week. He distributed copies to other board members at a meeting Thursday.
"It's basically a regurgitation of where we are now, except it's in a formal report," he said of the audit.
The agency continues to await the outcome of an investigation by the Virginia State Police that is attempting to determine if anyone in the agency committed crimes in managing its finances.
The audit, by the Winchester firm of Yount, Hyde & Barbour, surfaced in a recent court filing by the agency in a lawsuit against its former executive director, Helen Cockrell.
Cockrell and the agency are suing each other over issues stemming from the financial crisis and her subsequent dismissal.
In an amended complaint filed in February, agency attorneys listed the cost of the audit at $45,000, part of a total of $110,000 in damages the agency is seeking from Cockrell.
Agency officials have blamed skyrocketing expenses from the audit and attorneys fees for the latest wave of financial trouble that forced managers and staff to take pay cuts this month.
Cockrell is suing the agency for $20,000 in sick leave and accrued annual leave that she contends went unpaid after she was dismissed.
A trial is set for May 22.
Hudson told the board members that the agency must give Yount, Hyde & Barbour a formal "management response" to the audit draft. The firm will incorporate the response in a final version of the audit to be presented at the next board meeting, he said.
In another matter, Hudson announced the agency is looking for a part-time finance director after interim director Lance Barron left for a new job in Pennsylvania about a month ago.
Barron's predecessor, Jim Shaffer, the agency's finance director, was dismissed along with Cockrell and Ann McIntyre, the director of development. Barron and Shaffer were full-time employees, but Hudson said he believed the the job could be handled part-time by the right person.
Someone with accounting expertise could deliver "what we need on a part-time basis and that saves us some resources," Hudson said.