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Cash Handling Discrepancy Found at Simpson Park

LAKELAND, FL (May 8, 2018) - The City of Lakeland discovered proper cash handling procedures were not followed within a division of the Parks & Recreation Department.  A financial review of accounts at the Simpson Park Recreation Complex was conducted and indicated a balance sheet discrepancy involving program revenue bank deposits.  A team from Internal Audit, Finance and Parks & Recreation discovered a loss of $117,113 over a five-year period had occurred.

City Manager Tony Delgado said, “Ultimately we are missing over $117,000 that is unaccounted for and has not been deposited into the proper accounts. Transactions entered into the Simpson Park point of sale system were not deposited into the bank and that raised serious concerns.” He added, “This is a significant amount of money and it is inexcusable. Obviously, after discovering the magnitude of the issue, we have taken immediate action impacting the employees responsible for managing the process. I’m heartbroken because we have good people that were negligent and did not follow simple cash handling procedures that were in place. This is certainly not indicative of our organization’s commitment to the community in holding ourselves to the highest standards.” 

The City’s Internal Audit Department started investigating the issue immediately when revenue from Simpson Park athletic programs appeared less than expected during Fiscal Year 2018.  During the review process, Internal Audit found deposits did not equal various transactions that were registered in the point of sale system going back five years. In fact, cash and multiple checks were found in the Recreation Supervisor’s office that were collected for athletic programs that were never deposited.  Checks and payments found were related to activities at Simpson Park including athletic programs, building rentals and summer camps.

The review into accounts by Internal Audit identified the Simpson Park camp programs had the largest amount of unaccounted revenue followed by the basketball program. Between Fiscal Year 2013 – Fiscal Year 2018, Internal Audit identified $117,113 that did not reconcile with deposits made into accounts. The break-down is as follows: $91,093 cash, $25,220 checks and $800 in money orders that were not deposited over a five-year period. 

Delgado said, “I want the community to know that programming at Simpson Park didn’t suffer because of this issue and we were quick to investigate once it came to light.  We conducted an administrative investigation and of course a parallel criminal investigation on the missing monies is ongoing. We are currently awaiting the findings of the criminal investigation by the Lakeland Police Department that could result in further action”

As a result of the Internal Audit investigation, additional cash handling and process reconciliation measures have been put in place with additional oversight by the Finance Department on all Departmental deposit transactions. The City maintains bonding coverage against theft losses and claims are being pursued. 

Those that managed daily cash operations at Simpson Park including supervisors accountable for financial oversight have been recommended for disciplinary action pending due process or exercised voluntary resignations or retirements during the investigative process.  Those positions include Recreation Leader Rashawn Gant; Recreation Supervisor Marquis Roberts; Superintendent of Recreation Robert Glass; and Fiscal Operations Manager Mindi Fitch.

“We take pride in the number of quality programs at Simpson Park and we do our best to put people in place that believe in what we are doing. Unfortunately, we had some of our brightest stars that shined in program development and I am disappointed that they didn’t follow-through with their administrative duties,” said Director of Parks & Recreation Bob Donahay. “I’m grateful that we found the issue when we did but I really wish that we could have discovered it immediately through our own checks and balances within the Recreation Division. With enhanced procedures in place now, we can continue to provide outstanding programs and service to our community.”

View/download the Review of Recreation's Athletic Programs Revenues (PDF)

Kevin Cook
Director of Communications