I bring many years of experience auditing to this project and that is how I approached the Denardo payroll fraud story. Before an auditor can assess individual transactions, professional standards require gaining an understanding of the internal control environment surrounding the transaction stream. Internal controls are the policies and procedures an entity uses to conduct business, in this case being the policies and procedures Bay St Louis used to generate payroll. Auditors gain this understanding by reviewing written policies and procedures, interviewing people involved in the internal control process along with a walk-through. It makes sense because to breathe life into financial transactions it helps greatly to understand the process that creates them. I relied on interviews with two former employees that have requested anonymity who have a detailed knowledge of the City’s payroll processes dating to the time Chief Denardo took his own life and what follows is directly based on those interviews.
The first step to being able to draw a paycheck is being listed on the annual payroll ordinance and I examined those going back to the year ended September 30, 2013 and sure enough Patricia Denardo was listed as a reserve police officer without fail. With that basic step understood the payroll process at Bat St Louis consists of two major parts.
Part 1 – Departmental time keeping:
1. The Employee turns in a time sheet to their supervisor, in the case of the Bay PD that would have been the Patrol Captain.
2. After approval the time sheet was sent to the Records Clerk for entry.
3. The Chief of Police approves and sends to City Hall for payment.
Part 2 – Finance Department
1. The time is received by finance, balanced, prepared for payment and sent to the Mayor for Approval.
2. Once approved by the Mayor, the payroll is generated including a direct deposit file which sent to the bank for payment.
In the case of the paychecks that I scheduled for Patricia Denardo, no less than 5 people would have been involved in the processing. The checks and balances are such that no one person can generate a paycheck. It is why the mechanics of the fraud required collusion, or in this case collusion by silence thus the audit finding in part 1. Continue reading “Deconstructing the Denardo Payroll Fraud: A Detailed Look at the Transactions”