The City of St. Augustine Beach's December 31, 2016 "Beach Blast Off" event featured government-sponosored alcohol sales with poor record-keeping, to wit, destruction of government records, a possible crime and grounds for civil, criminal and administrative investigations.
St. Augustine Beach City Manager MAX ROYLE wrote government watchdog Thomas F. Reynolds, Jr. that "For a few days, the tickets were kept so that the Finance Department could do a check of the tickets sold and the tickets not sold."
Florida Secretary of State rules require these records be kept five (5) years:
RECEIPT/REVENUE RECORDS: DETAIL Item #365
This series consists of records documenting specific receipts/revenues collected by an agency through cash, checks, electronic fund transfers (EFT), credit and debit cards, or other methods. The series may include, but is not limited to, records such as cash collection records and reports, cash receipt books, cash register tapes, deposit/transfer slips, EFT notices, credit and debit card records, receipt ledgers, receipt journal transactions and vouchers, refund records, bad check records, and other accounts receivable and related documentation. Retention is based on Section 95.11(2), Florida Statutes, Statute of Limitations on contracts, obligations, or liabilities. See also “RECEIPT/REVENUE RECORDS: SUMMARY.”
RETENTION: 5 fiscal years.
Mr. Reynolds is an experienced food and beverage manager with some two decades of experience. Earlier today (February 20, 2017). Mr. Reynolds reported the City of St. Augustine Beach's admitted records destruction to the Florida Secretary of State for investigation -- mandatory SoS record-keeping requirements were admittedly violated. As a result, how do we know if this is a case of mere incompetence or actual embezzlement? Mr. Reynolds infers that there may have been more than $12,000 and as much as $18,000 of cash receipts not accounted for -- a possible crime by City employees and volunteers who never had a background check, with inadequate coverage by the reactionary, pro-Establishment St. Augustine Record.
Before Beach Blast Off, I received responses to several Open Records requests raising concerns about security, safety and fraud-proofing. My concerns fell on uncaring ears unaccustomed to Yankee concepts like accounting internal controls and organizational accountability.
Here, in haec verba, is the inculpatory response from estimable, embarrassing, embattled City of St. Augustine Beach City Manager MAX ROYLE February 15, 2017 to Mr. Reynold's ten questions:
On Wednesday, February 15, 2017 8:34 AM, Max Royle
In response to your questions:
1. There was no ticket vendor. A supply of tickets was purchased for use at the event.
2. As noted under #1, there was no ticket vendor. Tickets were sold by volunteers.
4. A City employee and a police officer collected the cash. There were no cameras and/or City employees at the ticket booths.
5. Volunteers at the ticket booths handled the cash. As noted in the answer to #3 above, a City employee and a police officer collected the cash.
6. The City’s Finance Department supervised the handling of the cash.
7. For security purposes, I can’t answer this question.
8. The cash was counted by two employees of the Finance Department.
10. For a few days, the tickets were kept so that the Finance Department could do a check of the tickets sold and the tickets not sold.
From: Tom Reynolds [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 6:16 PM
To: Hala Laquidara
Cc: Comm George
Subject: Beach Blast 2016 questions
To: Hala Laquidara and or Max Royle
From: Tom Reynolds, a SAB Resident
Re: New Years Eve Beach Blast 2016
Good day Hala and Max, hope all is well with the both of you.
Could you please answer the following questions ?
1) How was the ticket vendor chosen ? RFP ? or ?
2) Who was the ticket vendor ?
3) Did the ticket vendor accept bank debit/credit cards and cash ?
4) What measures were taken to insure accuracy and or honesty ?
Cameras or a City employee stationed at the ticket booth?
5) Who handled all of the cash ? Any SAB Police present ?
6) Who supervised the handling of all the cash ?
7) Where was the cash stored until taken to the bank for deposit ? If this question is a security risk, OK, please just inform one or more of the City Commissioners who are CC'd on this.
8) Was all the cash counted with two or more employees ?
9) Was the cash all counted under video recording ?
10) Did you store all tickets that came into the alcohol sales tents ?
Thank You very much,
What they may have violated is a Florida criminal statute:
839.13 Falsifying records.—
(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), if any judge, justice, mayor, alderman, clerk, sheriff, coroner, or other public officer, or employee or agent of or contractor with a public agency, or any person whatsoever, shall steal, embezzle, alter, corruptly withdraw, falsify or avoid any record, process, charter, gift, grant, conveyance, or contract, or any paper filed in any judicial proceeding in any court of this state, or shall knowingly and willfully take off, discharge or conceal any issue, forfeited recognizance, or other forfeiture, or other paper above mentioned, or shall forge, deface, or falsify any document or instrument recorded, or filed in any court, or any registry, acknowledgment, or certificate, or shall fraudulently alter, deface, or falsify any minutes, documents, books, or any proceedings whatever of or belonging to any public office within this state; or if any person shall cause or procure any of the offenses aforesaid to be committed, or be in anywise concerned therein, the person so offending shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(2)(a) Any person who knowingly falsifies, alters, destroys, defaces, overwrites, removes, or discards an official record relating to an individual in the care and custody of a state agency, which act has the potential to detrimentally affect the health, safety, or welfare of that individual, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term “care and custody” includes, but is not limited to, a child abuse protective investigation, protective supervision, foster care and related services, or a protective investigation or protective supervision of a vulnerable adult, as defined in chapter 39, chapter 409, or chapter 415.
(b) Any person who commits a violation of paragraph (a) which contributes to great bodily harm to or the death of an individual in the care and custody of a state agency commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term “care and custody” includes, but is not limited to, a child abuse protective investigation, protective supervision, foster care and related services, or a protective investigation or protective supervision of a vulnerable adult, as defined in chapter 39, chapter 409, or chapter 415.
(c) Any person who knowingly falsifies, alters, destroys, defaces, overwrites, removes, or discards records of the Department of Children and Families or its contract provider with the intent to conceal a fact material to a child abuse protective investigation, protective supervision, foster care and related services, or a protective investigation or protective supervision of a vulnerable adult, as defined in chapter 39, chapter 409, or chapter 415, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. Nothing in this paragraph prohibits prosecution for a violation of paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) involving records described in this paragraph.
(d) This section does not prohibit the disposing or archiving of records as otherwise provided by law. In addition, this section does not prohibit any person from correcting or updating records.
(3) In any prosecution under this section, it shall not be necessary to prove the ownership or value of any paper or instrument involved.
History.—s. 19, Feb. 10, 1832; RS 2571; GS 3483; RGS 5357; CGL 7492; s. 1023, ch. 71-136; s. 1, ch. 2002-386; s. 2, ch. 2007-174; s. 303, ch. 2014-19.
BOTTOM LINE: We need honest law enforcement, not a lapdog -- an Inspector General here in St. Johns County, as in other counties, to investigate waste, fraud, abuse, misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, flummery, dupery and nincompoopery.