LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – It’s been a week since Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes was arrested on an eight-count indictment out of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office involving ethics, theft, and perjury allegations. Hughes has yet to release a statement to the public regarding his arrest. However, back in April, when the investigation first began, he did tell News 3 he never knowingly violated any ethical standard.
Meanwhile, a public report with the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts is pointing to financial red flags dating back to when Brandon Huges was first elected to the DA’s Office. News 3 wants to be clear, as far as we know, the information revealed in the Examiners Report has nothing to do with the eight-count indictment Hughes is charged under.
The report compiled by Alabama’s Examiners of Public Accounts and filed in June of 2019, detailed problems with some of the financial operations of the Lee County District Attorney’s Office. Examiners reviewed records between November 1, 2015, and August of 2018 but only detected non-compliance instances when Hughes began serving as District Attorney back in January of 2017.
You can read the full report here: June 28, 2019 Department of Examiners of Public Accounts Report on the Office of District Attorney Thirty-Seventy Judicial Circuit
Essentially, examiners discovered two main issues regarding the cashbook account, which s a receipt and disbursement register, and the Worthless Check Unit, which accounts for fees from service charges and restitution collected for processing worthless checks.
A portion of the report reads:
“The District Attorney did not have controls and procedures in place to ensure the maintenance of an accurate cashbook and monthly reconciliation of the cashbooks to the bank accounts. As a result, the District Attorney was unable to know the financial position and results of financial operations. Furthermore, the Office was exposed to the loss of financial assets, which would not be detected in a timely manner. The District Attorney did not have controls and procedures in place to ensure the proper accounting for and distribution of money collected by the Worthless Check Unit and the identification of any amounts remaining on hand. Additionally, the District Attorney did not have controls and procedures in place to ensure bank accounts were reconciled each month. As a result, all money collected was not distributed, and unidentified amounts of money remained on hand at the conclusion of the examination.”
The examiner made several recommendations to ensure both cashbook and the Worthless Check Unit were operating under the law.
While Hughes is under indictment, he is suspended with pay. As of Monday, an interim District Attorney had not been appointed.