Follow-up review of Miller Police Department finds improvements to better protect taxpayers as criminal case proceeds

November 20, 2019

As criminal case proceeds, follow-up review of Miller Police Department finds improvements to better protect taxpayers; Progress report of city also issued, shows efforts to improve accounting oversight and better track payroll

From the Office of the Missouri State Auditor

State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released two follow-up reports on the city of Miller in Lawrence County. An audit released in May detailed improper payroll payments and missing city-owned equipment in the Miller Police Department. The review found the city made changes within the police department to better protect taxpayer resources.   

The audit recommended the city work with law enforcement on criminal prosecution related to the fraudulent payroll payments and missing weapons and computers. The report provided details on improper payroll checks totaling $24,623 issued to the former lieutenant, Randall Bruce but negotiated by the former police chief, Joshua Bruce. Additionally, items purchased by the former chief were either missing or found at his house, including firearms, computers, monitors and clothing.

The audit also brought to light more than $18,000 in unsupported and excessive mileage reimbursements, questionable fuel purchases, and credit card charges for personal items or services. A case against the former lieutenant was resolved and resulted in the city receiving more than $6,000 in restitution. The case against the former police chief is ongoing.

The audit also identified improper overtime payments to the former chief related to highway safety grants. In addition, city officials had not submitted all required records related to these grants to the state. The city has repaid the state $1,779 for grant funds where the required records were not submitted. 

The city is working to implement policies to prevent future misuse or abuse of funds in the police department. This includes an ordinance to address meal expenses, an updated policy related to credit card use, and conducting an inventory of all city-owned property still maintained at the police department.

The follow-up report of the police department evaluated seven recommendations and determined four had been implemented and three were in progress.

A separate report on the city also issued in May highlighted concerns with city payroll and accounting processes. The follow-up review found the city is working to improve processes related to timecards and compensatory time and has discontinued the practice of paying employees in advance. The city is also working to improve accounting processes and ensure there are checks and balances over financial functions. The city has improved processes for tracking and recording restricted funds and reviewing credit card purchases.

In total, auditors identified 19 areas of concern to evaluate during the follow-up review. Seven recommendations were implemented. For 10 other recommendations, progress has been made or recommendations were partially implemented. The recommendations for 2 findings had not been addressed.

The follow-up report on the Miller Police Department can be found on the state auditor's website. The report on the city of Miller can be found on the state auditor's website.