DAMASCUS, Ark. (KTHV) -- Just five months after the city of Damascus was ruled a speed trap, and was banned from writing traffic tickets, prosecutors have now asked Arkansas State Police to investigate another matter.
This time, possible misuse of government funds by the city's embroiled Police Chief.
A standard audit on the Damascus Police Department's spending set off red flags for state investigators, who turned the information over to the area's new prosecutor, Luke Ferguson. He said that information gave him enough cause to ask State Police to investigate what was going on at Damascus PD.
"Based on the report we received from Legislative Audit, it appeared that around $13,000 was charged to this credit card. Around $9,000 of that amount were the purchases that were of concern, because they were not documented properly,” the Prosecuting Attorney said, adding a credit card, under the name of the former Damascus Police Chief, raised concerns for his office and they've asked State Police to investigate.
According to the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee, nearly $3,000 was spent at Amazon and Walmart and another $2,400 was spent on groceries. More than $2,000 was spent at restaurants. $1,800 was spent on clothes, shoes, postage, and household items. The receipts weren’t itemized, so Ferguson’s office has no way of knowing what was purchased. His hope, he told us, is that ASP’s investigation will shed some light.
Ferguson also requested ASP investigate the sale of city property: body armor and a ballistic vest to two former police officers for around $550.
"There might be a concern with a theft of property charge based on purchases that may not have had a legitimate business purpose,” Ferguson elaborated.
This is the second time in a dozen years that a Damascus city employee has been investigated for improper use of city funds. In 2004 and 2005's audits, a former Damascus Court Clerk was found to have used city funds to pay off student loan debt, and resigned.
Damascus City Attorney, Beau WIlcox, said in a statement: "The City fully supports the prosecutor's efforts to determine the nature and extent of any wrongdoing and will continue to cooperate with the investigation by providing whatever information it can. The city has taken necessary and commendable steps to address these issues, including the elimination of the chief's position altogether."
State Police confirm they've received the request for investigation.
Efforts to reach the former Police Chief, Rick Perry, were unsuccessful.