June 11, 2020
More than $178,000 has now been confirmed to be missing from an inmate account during an 18-month period at the Adair County Regional Jail.
An audit for the 2018-19 fiscal year was released Wednesday, reporting that $97,451 is missing for that fiscal year. Those findings follow a 2017-18 audit released in March that reported $80,987 in missing funds from October 2017 through June 30, 2018.
The audit of the jail fund is a part of the overall county government audit, which was conducted by the state auditor’s office for 2018-19.
After learning of the missing funds while the 2017-18 was being conducted, Jailer Joey White and the fiscal court requested audits through the end of December 2019. That final audit through the end of 2019 is not yet complete.
The 2018-19 audit states that there are three methods the jail has for accepting money that should be deposited into the inmate bank account, a booking kiosk, a lobby kiosk and online payments that are credited to an inmate’s account.
Kiosk reports and online payments totaled $571,229, but only $473,778 was ever deposited, according to the audit.
During a previous interview, Jailer Joey White said he originally discovered the discrepancy and contacted Sheriff Josh Brockman and County Judge Executive Gale Cowan. Later that same day a call was made to the auditor, he said.
White said he would take part in withdrawing funds from the kiosk machine and initial deposit slips and an employee took deposits to the bank. White said he would see a bank reconciliation report that made it appear that deposits were being made.
“I looked at monthly reconciliations. The monthly reconciliations were zeroed out,” he said. He did not notice a shortage in the bank account because the account’s balance tends to vary a great deal, he said.
“It can fluctuate a lot in a month,” he said.
White said Wednesday he believes they will discover there are more funds missing through mid-November 2019 when that audit is complete. He believes that partial audit could be completed pretty quickly.
Kentucky State Police Det. B.J. Burton is investigating the case, and Burton released some information involving the case following the latest audit.
Ricky Huckaby was administrator of the funds for the jail during the time period for the audits until his death on Nov, 13, 2019. Huckaby died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the coroner’s report.
Det. Burton said his investigation points to Huckaby as the primary suspect, and he does not anticipate any charges to follow the final audit.
Burton said that normally if the primary suspect is deceased, a case is closed with exception, but added that in this case he will forward the case to Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Wright for review.
In some instances a complete deposit was never made and at other times a deposit slip appeared to have been altered with partial funds being deposited.
A forensic auditor has helped with the investigation and has found “suspicious activity” with Huckaby’s bank account, but it does not account for the total funds missing, Burton said.
“There is no way to account for a lot of that cash,” Burton said. “At the end of the day we will not be able to confirm he took every bit of it.”
The audit calls for White to make several changes in internal controls and he said he has already put those changes in place.
White said he hopes an insurance policy held through the county might offer some relief to regain the losses. The funds are considered a net profit to the jail and can only be used for costs that directly benefit inmates. Funds have been used to purchase items such as mowers that inmates use for a work program as well as to cover partial costs for medical care for inmates.
By Sharon Burton