Moore County campaign ’22: Two bad audits from state auditor’s office beget even more from state courts office


We told you earlier about the hot mess expanding from Pinehurst to Carthage:

[…] Well, we’ve found two audits from state auditor Beth Wood — from 2011 and from 2016 — indicating that the Moore County Clerk of Court’s office was reprimanded over their money management practices AT LEAST twice in five years. Basically the same concerns about the county clerk’s office were cited in both audit reports. […]

Now, it appears that the hot mess in Carthage has grown some legs and is spreading out.  Wood was apparently not the only one concerned about our county’s Clerk of Court, The Honorable Susan Hicks.  The Administrative Office of The Courts (AOC) —  which manages the state’s court system —  produced at least THREE more negative audits of the Moore County Clerk of Court’s office.

After reading those three reports,  we can see why Susan Hicks is retiring.  She might be perpetrating a ‘Maureen Krueger’ move — bailing out of one’s office before the public finds out just how bad you screwed things up. 

Here are some of the findings against Hicks’s office in 2009-2010:

[…] The Clerk of Superior Court Financial Policies and Procedures Manual (CSC Financial Policies Manual) states that head bookkeepers, head cashiers, and cashiers should not have the ability to add or change data (update access) in ACIS. The CSC Financial Policies Manual is silent with respect to update access in VCAP since this system was not in effect during the last update of the CSC Financial Policies Manual. Nonetheless, the risk associated with bookkeepers, head cashiers, and cashiers having update access in VCAP is similar to the risk associated with those same individuals having update access in ACIS.

Two bookkeepers have update access in ACIS and VCAP. Eight cashiers have update access in ACIS and seven cashiers have update access in VCAP. This access gives these employees the ability to waive criminal citations in ACIS, satisfy judgments in VCAP, and also authorize and process payments in VCAP. With this access, assets could be misappropriated and unauthorized entries made in the two systems.[…]

Keys to various locations, including the safe and evidence room are stored in an unlocked desk drawer. While a sign-in/sign-out log is used to keep track of keys in use, access is not limited to specific employees. […]

The Clerk of Superior Court Procedures Manual (CSC Procedures Manual) provides guidance for taking criminal appearance secured bonds. Chapter 22 of the CSC Procedures Manual advises that the trustee designation should include the elected Clerk’s name, the name of the office, and a successor trustee designation in the successor to the office (e.g., “Jane Doe, Clerk of Superior Court of Black County or her successor”). In addition, NCAOC counsel previously has advised that naming only the office as trustee (e.g., “Clerk of Superior Court of Black County”) is sufficient.

We examined all deed of trust criminal appearance bonds held by the Clerk. Of the deeds examined, 13 did not comply with the recommendations of the CSC Procedures Manual or advice of NCAOC counsel. […]

The results of an AOC audit of the Moore County office in 2019  weren’t much prettier:

And then there was the recently completed 2022 audit: