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Forensic audit of Sheriff’s Office payroll expected soon

Burnet County Judge James Oakley holds up a printout of an emailed response from the Texas Department of Public Safety concerning an 'investigation' into Burnet County Sheriff’s Office timesheets and payroll. Oakley has consistently defended a Burnet County Commissioners Court decision to hire an outside firm to audit the Sheriff’s Office budget. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

A forensic audit of the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office ordered in September 2023 could be available within the next four weeks, according to Burnet County Judge James Oakley. The Commissioners Court voted almost a year ago to hire third-party accounting firm BakerTilly to conduct the audit for alleged payroll irregularities. The cost was not to exceed $20,000. 

At the time the audit was ordered, Sheriff Calvin Boyd denounced it as a waste of taxpayer money. He said there might have been inconsistent labeling associated with training hours versus normal hours but not any wrongdoing. 

“Nobody got paid for hours that they didn’t work,” Boyd told DailyTrib.com after the Burnet County Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday, July 9. “I don’t know how an audit can change that.”

The sheriff said last year that Oakley’s audit was in retaliation for a series of charges brought against the judge in March 2023. Oakley was suspended from office on March 15 after a grand jury handed down four charges relating to abuse of office. 

The suspension was lifted in August 2023, when a Blanco County jury found him not guilty of misuse of government property. District Attorney Wiley “Sonny” McAfee appealed three other charges that were quashed by a district judge to the Third Court of Appeals, Texas Division, where they are still pending a court ruling.

Oakley defended the audit on Tuesday.

“I am hopeful that we will have the report from BakerTilly very soon, hopefully by the next Commissioners Court meeting,” he said. “I am very confident that it will confirm everything that has been found internally.”

The judge told DailyTrib.com he could not discuss audit specifics without the final report.

“We just want to make sure timesheets were accurate,” he said.

At the time of the initial investigation into alleged payroll irregularities, Sheriff Boyd said the district attorney had already looked into the BCSO payroll and found no wrongdoing.

“What we saw (in our investigation) was nothing that was criminal,” DA McAfee said. “(The information) was referred to in (the Sheriff’s Office) database one way, and it should have been another way. My takeaway was, yes, (the deputies) had worked the hours. (The Sheriff’s Office) had just labeled those hours in a different way.”

The county brought in BakerTilly to get an impartial report on BCSO activities, Oakley said.

“The whole purpose of doing this (forensic audit) was so that an outside firm would do it to ensure that there was no bias to the findings,” he said.

dakota@thepicayune.com

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