State audit of former Bullitt Co. sheriff notes mismanagement of money, illegal tow lot operations

State audit of former Bullitt Co. sheriff notes mismanagement of money, illegal tow lot operations
Bullitt County Sheriff Donnie Tinnell

BULLITT COUNTY, KY (WAVE) - A routine audit of the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office shows a mismanagement of money by the department.

The report focused on former Sheriff Donnie Tinnell’s 2017 fee account was released by State Auditor Mike Harmon on Thursday, whose duties include auditing the accounts of each county sheriff per state law. Harmon also releases a report on the sheriffs’ tax accounts each year.

State inspections found Tinnell collected fees for a tow lot he operated, which violates state law. The tow lot began operations in February 2017 and owners were charged not only with a towing fee, but also $25 a day to store the vehicle on the lot.

According to Harmon, the owners of the car were given a certain amount of time to pick up their vehicle and pay their fees. If the vehicle was not picked up in time, ownership would be turned over to the sheriff’s office and then put up for sale.

Those fees were deposited into an outside account and not reported to the state, according to Harmon.

The audit also shows a lack of control over disbursements and money for drug buys, as well as payroll processing and outside employment.

Harmon’s office recommended a number of changes for both the sheriff’s office and the sheriff. Among them, ensuring checks for drug buy funds are written to cash or to the bank and implement policies to document how much funds each deputy performing drug buys is permitted to have on hand at a time. Harmon also suggested independent reviews of the drug buy ledgers for each deputy to make sure they’re complete and accurate.

Donnie Tinnell did not provide a response to the audit, according to Harmon’s report.

The full audit can be read below:

Copyright 2019 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.