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Audit: Incomplete speeding ticket records in Brice, borrowed gun improperly sold

Village of Brice (File - WSYX/WTTE)

The Village of Brice failed to maintain records needed for state auditors to verify the accuracy of its reported speeding ticket revenue from 2016 per Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost.

Yost said an audit of the village revealed incomplete speeding ticket records from last year. In addition, a former police chief was accountable for the unauthorized sale of a gun that was on loan from the federal government per Yost.

According to the audit, the village of 120 people reported $171,611 in collections from speed camera citations during 2016. The audit said that amount made up 73 percent of the village’s general fund and 55 percent of its governmental activities revenue for the year.

Yost said as part of Brice's collection process, Police Chief Bud Bauchmoyer reviews speed camera photos for quality before approving the usable images for submission to the village’s third-party collection agencies. According to Yost, he never kept a record of which images he approved for collection. That made it impossible for auditors to validate the reported revenue amount.

“A prudent police chief would keep a complete record of every citation, especially given the level of scrutiny placed on the village’s ticketing practices,” Yost said. “Without an intact paper trail, we can’t give taxpayers assurance that this amount is accurate.”

In addition to the speed camera findings, auditors determined that former Police Chief Christopher Stets, owes the village $1,000 for financial losses resulting from the sale of a borrowed handgun.

Yost said the pistol was one of two firearms on loan to the village's police department by the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency. When the agency contacted the village in 2014 to confirm it still had the guns, only one was found said Yost.

The federal government tracked the missing pistol to a man who purchased it in 2011 from an Ashland gun shop using the gun's serial number according to Yost.

Yost said the gun was confiscated and was given $1,000 reimbursement from the village.

Village council said they agreed in 2015 to reimburse the man despite never authorizing the initial sale.

Yost said auditors issued a $1,000 finding for recovery against Stets because he was responsible for the gun’s safekeeping.

“Trust in government is founded on transparency and accountability, especially when it comes to local revenues. I am deeply troubled to hear of the village’s handling of its speeding ticket program as well as its lack of oversight and sale of a borrowed handgun. Taxpayers deserve to know where money is coming from and how it is being spent. Without proper documentation and scrutiny, we cannot assure taxpayers that what they are being told is accurate. It is my hope that the village’s reporting and oversight processes can be rectified moving forward.” said State Rep. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus).

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