Sheriff unhappy with audit and auditor

Monroe county sheriff Michael Neal fires back after an audit raises questions about his office.

CLARENDON (KATV) - An Arkansas sheriff is fighting back after a state audit raises questions about his spending practices.

We traveled to Monroe County to get reaction from both sides.

The audit was made public on November 14th, about a week after election day - an election day that saw voters give Monroe County Sheriff Michael Neal another four years in office.

"Had this report come out before the election, do you think it would have changed the outcome of the election?"

"Without a doubt,” says Holly Grove resident Jimmy Nosler. “No question about it. It would have been a big change."

The state audit raised questions about the purchase of a boat, cell phone and credit card usage and the activities of the sheriff's chief jailer and a deputy.

In a response in the local paper, Sheriff Neal fires back at not only the audit but the auditor.

Sheriff Neal "...alleges that the audit was a political attack and has requested new auditors without local connections for the next audit."

"If you go back and you track her history, and her husband, they have ties to some of the political people here in this county," says Sheriff Neal.

The audit claims a deputy was terminated. Sheriff Neal says she was not.

It claims he reimbursed the county. He says he did not.

And the purchase of a boat formerly owned by his chief deputy was approved by the county judge and quorum court.

"I don't see where I've done anything wrong,” says Sheriff Neal. “I mean there is no money missing. I didn't steal any money. You know I didn't use county money."

Some citizens though remain troubled by the audit's findings and they believe the auditor more than the sheriff.

"This is a time of scrutiny for law enforcement,” says Miriam Reed of Brinkley. “And we want good people serving. Not people that are questionable or are in some way illegal in their actions."

Legislative auditor Roger Norman says 25 to 30 audits were publicly released on the same day as the Monroe County audit.

Sheriff Neal says he hopes to get the opportunity to both challenge and answer questions about the audit in the near future.

Air date: December 6th, 2018

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