By Beth Lawrence
An independent accounting firm hired by Jackson County has released the findings of a forensic audit of the financial records of the Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad.
The county selected Dixon Hughes Goodman of Asheville to perform the review in the wake of a dispute between the rescue squad and former board member Brandy Sullivan which began after a bookkeeper turned up alleged shady dealings.
County Manager Don Adams presented a summary letter of the findings to county commissioners at their Oct. 13 meeting.
“Once it was understood that there were potential criminal accusations that could be made, both the county and the squad leadership requested that law enforcement investigate the issue,” Adams said.
GCRS and the county contract to offer rescue services in that region of the county for $116,421 yearly and emergency medical services for $1,093,257.
Because of this contract and possible criminal concerns, the independent auditor was hired.
The review of the records began in May 2019. Auditors pored over financial information from years 2016 to 2018. The forensic review was completed in November 2019.
Investigators reviewed general financial records along with those related to the dispute.
The review deemed all GCRS records to be in order with the exception of records surrounding the dispute.
“As a result of the procedures detailed in this report, we have identified the inappropriate transfer of funds from the Rescue Squad’s bank account to Mr. Sullivan’s business, (Sullivan Custom Homes),” the report states. “At this time, we have not identified any other items of concern.”
The forensic audit appears to support GCRS claims that Sullivan, in his efforts to earn a building contract with the rescue squad, conspired to transfer money from the GCRS account into his business account with SCH as a scheme to earn a larger liability license from the state.
The contract was for construction of an addition to the current GCRS building. Sullivan’s limited liability license did not allow him to take on projects above a certain dollar amount.
“On June 29, 2017, a transfer of funds in the amount of $152,000 was made from the Rescue Squad’s account to SCH’s business account,” the report reads. “It is our understanding that Mr. Sullivan and the secretary of the Rescue Squad’s Board of Directors, Ms. Sandy Taylor, visited (redacted) bank to make the transfer … We were provided with a package of evidence related to the transactions with Mr. Sullivan and SCH. The package included bank receipts of the transfer of funds, which showed $152,000 was transferred from the Rescue Squad’s account to the business account of SCH on 6/29/2017. The funds were then transferred back to the Rescue Squad’s account on 7/5/2017.”
The report contains evidentiary copies of the documents submitted to Dixon Hughes Goodman for examination.
Sullivan allegedly transferred the funds to prove that he had enough operating capital to allow him to expand his ability to take on larger projects.
Adams and county attorney Heather Baker declined to comment citing the ongoing nature of the issue.
“Because there is continuing civil litigation and pending criminal charges, we cannot comment,” Baker said.
She did not say what criminal charges might apply.