Prison administrator’s ‘inaccurate’ documentation increased risk for vehicle misuse, audit finds

Updated: May. 28, 2019 at 3:56 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - A state prison administrator racked up at least 2,800 unaccounted miles during a three-year period, paving the way for potential misuse, a report released by North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood on Tuesday found.

Wood’s office began investigating Tabor Correctional Institution’s (TCI) administrator’s use of taxpayer-owned vehicles after it received an allegation through its fraud hotline. Auditors found the administrator, Brad Perritt, failed to complete travel logs, which are required by Department of Public Safety (DPS) policy, from January 2016 to December 2018.

“Although the Administrator was aware of the policy manual, he failed to accurately document his vehicle use,” the report states. “As a result, the risk of undetected vehicle misuse increased.”

A review of the Perritt’s trip tickets, a separate form created and used by Tabor Correctional in lieu of DPS policy, revealed “numerous errors including overlapping mileage, missing trip tickets, undocumented mileage and missing destination and/or purposes of trip,” according to the report.

Specific findings in the report include:

  • A trip ticket for travel from March 2, 2016, to March 16, 2016, had an explanation for a one-day meeting in Raeford, NC. The Administrator documented 875 miles driven. However, calculated mileage for a round trip to Raeford from the Institution totaled 151 miles. As a result, 724 miles are unaccounted for.
  • A trip ticket for travel from September 20, 2017, to September 23, 2017, had an explanation for travel to the Confinement in Response to Violation Center (CRV Center) in Lumberton, NC. The Administrator does not indicate which day or days he drove to the CRV Center during this four-day timeframe. The Administrator documented 749 miles driven. However, calculated mileage for a round trip to the CRV Center from the Institution totaled 80 miles.
  • A trip ticket for travel between October 30, 2017, and November 2, 2017, had an ending odometer reading of 4,117. The subsequent trip ticket had a beginning travel date of November 8, 2017, with an odometer reading of 4,701. The Administrator’s trip tickets for the vehicle between November 3, 2017, and November 7, 2017, were missing. As a result, 584 miles are unaccounted for.
  • A trip ticket for travel between June 1, 2018, and June 30, 2018, included an explanation for attending a superintendent meeting in Raleigh on June 20, 2018 (276 miles round trip), and a graduation at the Samarcand Training Academy in Brewer, NC, on June 22, 2018 (204 miles round trip). The trip ticket documented 2,009 miles driven. However, calculated mileage for trips to Raleigh and Brewer totaled 480 miles. As a result, 1,529 miles are unaccounted for.

Perritt is quoted in the report as saying TCI chose to use trip tickets to document vehicle use because they “could be monitored daily.” Auditors noted this method was “not sufficient” because TCI did not have any documented procedures to provide oversight and monitoring of vehicles.

Auditors recommended the DPS require Perritt to provide documentation for unaccounted miles or seek reimbursement from him for taxpayers’ funds related to the unaccounted mileage. The report did not provide an estimated amount for reimbursement.

In response to the audit’s findings, DPS Secretary Erik A. Hooks wrote a letter to Wood acknowledging Perritt violated departmental policy.

“Although the Warden completed trip tickets to document state-owned vehicle use in place of completing travel logs, it appears the trip tickets were not complete and accurate,” Hooks wrote. “I agree with your conclusion that such inaccuracies can result in an increased rick of undetected vehicle misuse.”

DPS, Hooks said, is requiring Perritt to review travel documents to account for the unaccounted mileage. DPS will then determine if any reimbursement is required.

“The Warden will also be required to immediately implement the proper use of mileage logs in compliance with DPS and State policy,” Hooks wrote. “Furthermore, we will provide the DPS policy to all prison facilities as a reminder of the State policy regarding the use of mileage logs when driving state-owned vehicles.

A spokesperson for the DPS said the department’s review of Perritt’s travel records is ongoing. Perritt has not been suspended or demoted since he was hired as a correctional officer in February of 1995, according to records provided by the DPS.

A message left for Perritt was not immediately returned.

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