RENO, Nev. — Reno police made unauthorized expenditures of federal forfeiture funds and lost money to accounting errors and improper investments of in treasury bonds, according to an audit conducted by the U.S. Justice Department.

Of $1.25 million the city police department received in so-called equitable sharing revenue to support law enforcement operations from July 2012 through June 2015, auditors found $1.1 million was spent mostly on law enforcement equipment, communications, computers, training and travel.

But the audit also found that more than $75,000 was spent without approval from the city manager at the time, and the city lost $5,000 in investments in treasury bonds using co-mingled city and forfeiture money.

“We determined that the Reno PD lacked effective internal controls and expended equitable sharing funds for unallowable purposes,” auditors said.

The report questioned $84,000 in costs and made 13 recommendations for Justice Department lawyers to oversee the Reno program.

Assistant Police Chief Jason Soto told the Reno Gazette-Journal (http://on.rgj.com/2vAUtVc) the department and City Manager Sabra Newby were working with auditors to correct mistakes.

Soto said the city may not have to repay the federal government.

“Overall, it was a pretty good audit, minus the two purchases (not approved by the city manager),” he said.

The Gazette-Journal noted the audited expenditures occurred under former Police Chief Steve Pitts and former City Manager Andrew Clinger.

Newby said she was confident the recommended improvements would ensure future compliance.

Soto said he didn’t know how the police department spent $47,500 in forfeiture funds on diversity training and $28,000 on computer security software without approval from the city manager, which is required for expenses over $25,000. The department has since obtained retroactive city manager approval.

The report faulted the city for improperly co-mingling forfeiture funds with other city funds invested in treasury bonds, which is against federal rules. The city lost $5,335 on those investments.

Police also spent nearly $9,000 on expenses not allowed by the federal government, including $7,600 on non-sworn personnel and $1,000 on a scholarship program, the report said.


Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com