Oakdale City Council holds special meeting to discuss audit report
Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) – A scandal involving the theft of nearly $1 million is the main topic of a special council meeting held in Oakdale on Monday night. You were told the former town clerk was accused of taking the money shortly before her death, but for some that’s not the end of the matter.
“So who looks at the budgets to make sure they haven’t gone over budget,” said one resident. “If they were constantly interrogated, why no one was – it was suspicious.”
The meeting went on for hours as residents asked questions such as how to recover nearly a million stolen dollars and why a city employee was in charge of all the finances.
“You are the mayor,” said another resident. “At the end of the day, you are responsible for taxpayers’ money.”
Officials said Melissa Schaefer manipulated electronic devices – known as tokens – to withdraw money from the city’s bank account. In an interview, Mayor Gene Paul said he had no idea where the devices were at the time and that Schaefer gave the second device to another councilman, telling him it was not. only a backup.
“She would keep it in a safe,” Paul said. “As a part-time councilman, he didn’t know any better.”
Paul said that with both devices, Schaefer also tampered with their outdated computer software, causing no concern in previous audits.
“She would present it to him any way she wanted, and that’s how it went, but he never, not once suspected misuse of the funds,” Paul said. “I asked several times a year, every year it was my concern.”
The city filed a civil lawsuit against Schaefer’s family. Paul also said the city is working to replace the city’s software, so this doesn’t happen again.
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