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Audit shows ongoing problems with PCSD  Commissary Fund

Sunday, December 23, 2007

State auditors have found problems in the Putnam County Sheriff's Department Commissary Fund every year Mark Frisbie has been sheriff.

Spending from the account has more than doubled under his watch and past State Board of Accounts audits show that Frisbie took at least two years to correct most problems investigators pointed out in the Commissary Fund and other Sheriff's Department accounts.

This comes in the wake of an audit report published last week that found about $4,400 in missing and misspent funds, all of which Frisbie repaid out of his own pocket at the request of the State Board of Accounts. The findings included $800 for first-class plane tickets to a sheriff's conference in Orlando, Fla., for Frisbie, his wife and his daughter, a $600 limousine tour of Washington D.C. during a conference for fallen officers, $450 for "I Support Sheriff Mark Frisbie" bracelets during election time and a $100 Visa bill at Hooters in Nashville, Tenn., for a "business lunch" between Frisbie and his attorney for which the sheriff could produce no receipt.

At the request of Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter, the Indiana State Police has launched an investigation of Frisbie to determine whether he is guilty of criminal wrongdoing.

Frisbie blames his slow response to State Board of Accounts findings on inconsistent advice from auditors. He also said the ballooning Commissary Fund expenditures reflect the growing cost of law enforcement equipment.

But Deputy State Board of Accounts Commissioner Paul Joyce said his auditors are "very well educated" on bookkeeping regulations and that the laws governing commissary funds in Indiana haven't changed for at least a decade.

The Sheriff's Department, like every other governmental body in the state, is audited every year.

Lack of receipts

In their review of the sheriff's 2005 funds, auditors noted that only 40 percent of the Visa card charges that they tested had accompanying receipts. The Visa bills were paid out of the Commissary Fund and by law, all purchases made with public money must be backed up with itemized receipts, according to the audit published in 2006.

As a result the accountants could not verify whether the expenses were allowable and valid, the report said.

State accountants ran into similar issues this year when they found that 31 of the 71 Visa charges made in 2006 did not have receipts.

These included a $360 order from Dell Catalog Sales, $170 in hotel lodgings and the aforementioned $100 bill at Hooters.

Frisbie told the BannerGraphic that it is common for his deputies to pay for equipment or meals while they're at a conference with the department's Visa car and then lose the receipt.

However, he vowed to "lay down the law" and no longer allow reimbursements for bills that do not have receipts.

Finance charges

In 2006, the State Board of Accounts also found that the department racked up $15 in interest charges on the department's Visa because the bill was not paid on time. This, the State Board of Accounts warned, could be an indicator of serious financial problems and should be investigated by the sheriff.

Nonetheless, this year's audit, which was released last week, shows that Frisbie did not correct the problems and continued to incur interest on the department's credit cards -- this time in the amount of about $20.

Indiana law dictates that public employees must pay all of their bills on time, according to the audit.

Ledger

When they reviewed former Sheriff Tom Helmer's 2002 books, auditors noted that the department was not using the correct ledger for financial transactions with the Commissary Fund.

Frisbie and Helmer were both present at the exit interview with the auditor, according to State Board of Accounts records.

However, it took two more years for Frisbie to correct the problem. Auditors pointed out the issue in their reports in 2003 and again in 2004, records show.

Frisbie said he took so long to adopt the proper ledger because he and the department's office managers received differing advice from the State Board of Accounts on how to handle the Commissary Fund's books.

Deposits

In the State Board of Accounts' audit of the department's 2003, funds investigators pointed out that receipts were not being given to people who made deposits into the Commissary Fund.

The majority of Commissary Fund money is collected from friends and family members who give inmates money to spend at the jail commissary. Prisoners can buy a wide array of items from the commissary, including snack food, playing cards, soap and deodorant.

Despite the warning, auditors found that the department was still not issuing receipts for every deposit into for the commissary when they showed up the next year.

The lack of receipts could increase the risk of theft or loss from the account, auditors said in the report, which was published in December 2005.

The issue has since been corrected, and Frisbie said this, too, was a problem of miscommunication by the State Board of Accounts.

Commissary budget

Despite all of the problems the State Board of Accounts has found with the Commissary Fund, spending from the account itself has grown from a maximum of $120,000 under Helmer -- in 2001 -- to an average of $230,000 every year under Frisbie.

In his first year as sheriff, Frisbie spent $233,000 from the Commissary Fund, eating up much of the $130,000 balance left in the bank when Helmer left office.

In 2006, the department spent about $231,000 from the account.

According to state law, the money can be used for several purposes not related to running the commissary including paying for training for employees, buying new equipment and financing crime prevention campaigns and programs. Only the State Board of Accounts has oversight of the spending from the Commissary Fund.

Frisbie said he did not realize spending from the account had grown so rapidly, but he is not surprised by the revelation.

The cost of law enforcement equipment has increased rapidly, he said, and he has had to use the Commissary Fund moneys to keep his department up-to-date with technology.


Comments
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Congrats!!! Once you help sink Mr. Frisbie, what will you work on next? La Cherrada was an easy win for you. You should investigate the door greeters at Wal-Mart. I have heard they have been skimming off of the Salvation Army. How do you get a job reporting anyways? I would like to drag down a couple of businesses and people myself. Once again, I love the one sided stories that you report. Maybe next time you will know the facts and can report the other 2 sides to the story. Because everyone knows there are 3 sides to all of your reports. Your side, Their side, And the TRUTH.

-- Posted by Hungry&Fat on Mon, Dec 24, 2007, at 4:40 AM

Here we go again - Frisbee putting the blame on someone else. If people are giving money to incarcerated loved ones and not getting a receipt, thats a RED FLAG in itself and should have been stopped immediately. Its interesting that Frisbee has doubled his spending of these funds and unable to produce receipts for all of it, how secure I feel in knowing this is the Sheriff of our County. Are these the type of individuals that we want our children to look up to? YA, RIGHT!

-- Posted by dbltrbl on Mon, Dec 24, 2007, at 6:55 AM

The right thing for the sheriff to do would be to take full responsibility for whatever happens under his watch and then to take a leave of absence until this is settled.

It makes me wonder what else goes on at the jail that we don't know about...yet.

-- Posted by paying attention on Mon, Dec 24, 2007, at 7:23 AM

I'm curious as to why people would get angry and attach Mr Zinnie for telling this story, and accuse him of sinking Frisbee. Sounds to me like Frisbee's sinking hisself-and blaming everyone else in the process.Mr Zinnies only printing the story. Get a grip and put the blame where it lays, after all-how hard is it to write a receipt for money rec'd for commisary, how hard is it to ask for a receipt when spending money and then keeping it long enough to turn it in? It only makes sense that you would cover your butt, unless you have something to hide which would explain the reasons receipts can't be found. Putnam County - is this a person you want your children to look up to?

Keep up the good work Mr Zinnie, as a resident of this county, I WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH so thanks for your continuing coverage.

-- Posted by dbltrbl on Mon, Dec 24, 2007, at 7:41 AM

Seems like Putnam co. is going down hill fast. Not only is there all this going on with Frisbee but you have the Town clerk in Roachdale scamming money as well.

Hungry&fat:

It is impossible for anyone to scam money out of the Salvation Army buckets. They are padlocked.

If you ant to eat in a restaurant where deer meet is being butchered and blood splattering everywhere thats fine no one else has to or wants to. Blaming a reporter for reporting news is very childish. Get a life.

-- Posted by JohnandVel on Mon, Dec 24, 2007, at 7:57 AM

Classic example of "killing the messenger." Zennie is reporting a story. What if an Indy or Terre Haute paper or TV station broke the same story, would people be criticizing them for doing the same thing? Probably not. To take a line from Fox News Channel, "we report, you decide," is a great slogan for any news coverage.

-- Posted by purple_heat on Mon, Dec 24, 2007, at 8:53 AM

Does anyone really believe everything they read in the media? The Banner-Graphic is no better than the Indianapolis Star or the New York Times. What they print may be the truth and it may not be the truth. We need to cut our sheriff some slack and wait until all the facts are in. I'm sure he does not personally pay the bills out of the fund. He is being judged guilty until proven innocent. He might only be guilty of lax supervision of his employees. That is a far cry from stealing. I, for one, will wait until the investigation is over and then make a judgment. I hope our local paper will be fair when reporting on this issue.

-- Posted by not gullible on Mon, Dec 24, 2007, at 9:47 AM

Thank you Mr Zinnie for the excellent reporting. It is honest and two sided. Frisbie had a comeback for everything you were writeing about. Putnam Co. needs to keep an open mind until the State is done with their investigation.

Mr. Zinnie I loved La Cha but don't blame you at all. I read the paper and talked with the public before decideing to hold off going for awhile.

If people just read the paper and don't look into it futher themselves that is their own problem. You give us a place to start.Thank You.

-- Posted by mad-mom on Mon, Dec 24, 2007, at 10:11 AM

Its great how people want to blame Mr. Nennie for all of this. It sounds like he is doing a great job trying to report the truth. My hat is off to him, and I cant wait to see his next story. Frisbie deserves to go down. No one sunk him but himself. Its nice that Helmer left $130,000 in the bank just to have Frisbie erase that number by spending $233,000 in his first year. So dont blame Mr. Nennie, he just showed all of you people who apparently are blind that Frisbie has been doing all of this since his first year as Sheriff. Looks to me like its about time someone started looking into it.

-- Posted by PutnamResident on Mon, Dec 24, 2007, at 10:46 AM

Its great how people want to blame Mr. Nennie for all of this. It sounds like he is doing a great job trying to report the truth. My hat is off to him, and I cant wait to see his next story. Frisbie deserves to go down. No one sunk him but himself. Its nice that Helmer left $130,000 in the bank just to have Frisbie erase that number by spending $233,000 in his first year. So dont blame Mr. Nennie, he just showed all of you people who apparently are blind that Frisbie has been doing all of this since his first year as Sheriff. Looks to me like its about time someone started looking into it.

-- Posted by PutnamResident on Mon, Dec 24, 2007, at 10:46 AM

Thank you Mr Zinnie for the excellent reporting. It is honest and two sided. Frisbie had a comeback for everything you were writeing about. Putnam Co. needs to keep an open mind until the State is done with their investigation.

Mr. Zinnie I loved La Cha but don't blame you at all. I read the paper and talked with the public before decideing to hold off going for awhile.

If people just read the paper and don't look into it futher themselves that is their own problem. You give us a place to start.Thank You.

-- Posted by mad-mom on Mon, Dec 24, 2007, at 10:11 AM

Zinnie? Nennie? Your reporter that you cherish so much and you can not even spell the name right. Why write a new report every other day when nothing has changed in the case? When Mr. Frisbie has been fully investigated and found guilty or not, Or when the matter has been solved should it be reported. That will keep the rumor milled closed or limited at the least. I dont solely blame Zennie for La Cherrada closing. The consumers are who closed it. I wish everyone a Merry CHRISTmas! And a Happy Holiday.

-- Posted by Hungry&Fat on Mon, Dec 24, 2007, at 11:27 AM

How many more times are you going to publish this same article? You already ran it.

Why did the commissioners approve it and the auditors office pay for it? hmmmm

I can't waid to read this same artice again.

-- Posted by keith on Mon, Dec 24, 2007, at 12:34 PM

why doesnt everyone take a look at www.frisseccon.com not only is he ACTING as our sheriff he also has his own business... he is the owner and director of operations of Frisbie Security Consulting! wonder how much of County Money was used for that training..our money must be going to training for numerous Foreign Agencies including the German National Police, German Secret Police, Israeli Secret Service, Scotland Yard and India Diplomatic Security, to name a few. how does this benefit Putnam County?! of course hes going to point his finger at everyone else...he doesnt want to loose his own business too! this is not politics as usual we need a new Sheriff! we need a Sheriff not a Playboy!

-- Posted by rocksolid on Mon, Dec 24, 2007, at 2:07 PM

What in the wide wide world of sports is going on here?

Uneducated postings make me want to vomit.

Happy Festivus!!

-- Posted by GuyFawkes1105 on Mon, Dec 24, 2007, at 4:26 PM

Hmmmmm... Everyone of you have opinions on this matter and are great at bashing our Sheriff and the department. Get educated on it!!! Nothing is funnier than watching a bunch of uneducated people try to comment on a subject that is printed in the paper. "Mr. Zennie" obtained a copy of the State Boards report. This is what he is reporting from. Nothing is made up or 1 sided. He recieved the same report that all of the area News Channels recieved. Oh!! And by the way!! "Frisbie" is spelled F R I S B I E.. And "Zennie" is Z E N N I E!I've got an idea!! Why don't everyone of you send MR. FRISBIE a letter with your name on it and tell him how you feel about this investigation. You are all gutless.

-- Posted by concerned3 on Tue, Dec 25, 2007, at 3:57 PM

So Hungry&Fat, I imagine you are either a relative of Frisbie, or on his payroll too. Anyone that could defend such a criminal is just as bad as they are. And yes I do cherish Mr. ZENNIE for being one of the only people who told the truth, and let us know the facts. Maybe if you would put some thought into what he is writing, instead of pointing out typoes on comments maybe you wouldnt have everything so turn around. Frisbie deserves every bit of what he is getting. And I cant wait to see Mr. ZENNIE'S next report.

-- Posted by PutnamResident on Wed, Dec 26, 2007, at 10:24 AM

You know what they say when you ASSUME right? Not a relative, nor a friend. I never defended anyone. Tried to get the point out that noone should pass judgement until all the facts are out in the open. If he is guilty, he very well deserves to be with all the criminals he helped put behind bars. If he is not, things will never be the same in his life, our life, or any residents of Putnam County. I'm not mad at anyone. I don't blame anyone. The only person guilty is the guilty party themselves. I believe in fairness over hopping on a bandwagon and bashing people. Especially if you have 3 different reports and all you have is less than a handful of comments from the other side. Once again I will say it. There are 3 sides to every story, Your side, their side, and the TRUTH. I really hope people make an honest judgement rather than judging on what tom, dick, and harry has said.

-- Posted by Hungry&Fat on Wed, Dec 26, 2007, at 9:06 PM

In regards to Keith you really should pay attention to the articles. The Banner article stated that the county has no control and does not oversee the Sheriff's Commissary fund....

-- Posted by John Deere Lady on Thu, Dec 27, 2007, at 1:09 PM

I definately put the blame on Frisbie because if he had been doing the job that the people of Putnam County elected him to do the right way then we wouldnt be reading about how he may be facing criminal charges in the paper. So whether he is guilty of criminal acts or not he still is not doing what he owes to the people. He may have not been charged yet, but the facts are out that he used department money for his own personal use, purchased campaign bracelets with the money when that is against the law, and on average has spent $230,000 a year out of the commissary fund. So I would not mind seeing the same stories printed over and over, just to show the people that you cannot trust Mark Frisbie. Twice now he has been elected Sheriff, and his chance seems to have past, and he failed, because he has shown that he cannot handle doing the job right. I only hope that the next Sheriff will be an honest, fair,professional, ethical, and hard working Sheriff. We definately do not have that now.

-- Posted by PutnamResident on Fri, Dec 28, 2007, at 1:13 PM

look here hungry,

no matter how this comes out mark is done, public opinion has him convicted of all charges, and the banner hasn't been fair in making a strong point that these are not facts just pending investigative points.

take alook around at other offices held by child abusers, former pimps, liars, and of course hard working good people. it's whoever is the flavor of the week, with the money, or the family that will determine who is ran through the mill.

again, good luck mark...do the right thing!

-- Posted by gottokno on Sun, Dec 30, 2007, at 8:54 PM

Very well put.

-- Posted by Hungry&Fat on Sun, Dec 30, 2007, at 10:12 PM

May I suggest two words to Mark? "No comment." He's burying himself. The more he points fingers at others, the more guilty he looks. A decent attorney would tell him to keep his mouth shut.

-- Posted by l9362 on Mon, Dec 31, 2007, at 1:07 PM

let me preface this by saying this is not an indictment of anyone in our county sheriffs department.

why would it take years and not just a few weeks or even a few months to correct such a small oversight as improper bookkeeping procedures in a department that has not really had such issues in the past ? how many other counties in the state are having such problems with their commissary accounting ? it seems as though the accounting faux pas could have been easily and readily corrected with 91 other counties in our state doing so. the sheriff is supposed to be in charge of his deputies and by not following procedure himself he did not set a very good example .

i have been self employed for over 30 years and absolutely CANNOT understand how my employees that "lose" receipts for items they have purchased with the money in their pockets can expect to be repaid. i have a very simple policy with regard to that , lose the receipt , lose the cash . my accountant will not and cannot use "ghost" buisness expenses on my tax returns , why should the sheriffs department be allowed to do so ? there is a very strong fishy odor in the air.

ps: what is so wrong with an afternoon at Hooters slamming pitchers of beer ?

answer: i am not doing it with someone elses MONEY !

-- Posted by Mad Bovine on Tue, Jan 1, 2008, at 8:23 AM

Who cares what happens now, right. I believe Mark cannot run for Sheriff again anyway. But if I'm wrong please let me know. Since we haven't heard anything about this case, I would take it as being washed down the drain.

-- Posted by cty-govt-a-muck on Wed, Jan 2, 2008, at 8:07 AM


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