VINITA — The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is looking into possible embezzlement at the Craig County jail.
A bureau spokeswoman said authorities were asked to look into the jail's finances after a state audit revealed discrepancies in the trust account that holds inmate funds for commissary purchases.
The special audit, released in October, demonstrated nearly $36,000 marked as received by the jail could not be verified as deposited into the account.
Craig County Sheriff Jimmie Sooter said his office is cooperating with investigators.
“In my opinion there is no money missing; I think it's just terrible bookkeeping, that's all,” Sooter said on Thursday. “OSBI is looking into it and whatever they find, we'll go with it.”
The audit and subsequent investigation were requested by District Attorney Janice Steidley, who was not available for comment.
The account under review holds money found on inmates when they were booked into the jail as well as money deposited by inmates' relatives during incarceration. The cash is supposed to be deposited and credited to inmate accounts daily and is managed solely by the sheriff's office.
The money can be used by inmates for medical expenses, copy fees or spent at the jail commissary. The money is typically refunded to inmates upon their release from the jail.
Auditors determined that some money recorded as deposited by an electronic database could not be accounted for in the account.
Other audit findings include:
Craig County inmates were being charged unauthorized book-in fees.
Several inmate account files could not be found.
The sheriff's office was spending money from the inmate accounts in violation of state law, including payments to a deputy for providing haircuts.
Some inmate accounts were running in the negative and were never refunded for insufficient fund charges.
The office lacked sufficient controls over its accounting of inmate funds.
The audit also found the sheriff's commissary fund was in arrears for nearly $83,000.
Sooter said his office has installed new accounting practices but said he did not want to comment further because of the ongoing investigation. He said no personnel changes have been made at the jail in response to the audit report.