Former Victoria County sheriff calls for forensic audit of Harvey recovery money 

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Joining the chorus of people calling for a deeper dive into how Victoria County handled $4 million in Hurricane Harvey recovery funds, former sheriff T. Michael O’Connor is calling for a forensic audit, the Victoria Advocate reported. 

O’Connor is transitioning to a new role as U.S. marshal after having served as sheriff since 2004. He has questions about how the county spent the money for the repairs, including fixing sheriff’s office facilities.

In a statement to the Advocate, O’Connor said there was a “disconnect” in communications between the county administration and the sheriff’s office on repairs for the facility. 

“At one point, due to the prolonged delay for needed repairs, we had to utilize sheriff’s office funds to make the repairs due to the urgency of personnel working in an unacceptable environment,” he wrote. 

The then-sheriff asked for work orders and schedules of the work so his office could have internal oversight, but he was never provided any documentation from the contractor or the county administration, the newspaper reported.

When his staff investigated why that information was not provided, they found “many questions unanswered and tracking documentation seemed to be limited to non-existing,” O’Connor wrote.

He requested the Texas Rangers Public Integrity Unit look at the situation but said he doesn’t know the status of the case. The Rangers didn’t return a call from the Advocate on Friday.

Last month, the Victoria County Commissioners Court approved the hiring of an outside accounting firm to do a financial audit of the Harvey repair money. O’Connor said a forensic audit would take a more in-depth look at the finances. County Judge Ben Zeller insisted the audit would be forensic despite the court’s language in the motion defining the action as a financial audit, the newspaper reported.

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