The accountant who audited the books for the last four years of former tax collector Jimmy Harris’ term in office has told county commissioners he’ll release his report as soon as he gets the go-ahead from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
In a June 8 letter to county commissioners, certified public accountant Ralph Roberson said “we will report to the board just as soon as we have clearance from the FDLE to do so.
“We have made numerous requests to the FDLE regarding the status of their investigation, and when it will be completed,” he said. “We are unable to report to you until the FDLE issues their report, and concludes their investigation.”
In August 2017, at the request of Harris successor, Rick Watson, and with the approval of the county commission, Roberson & Associates was engaged to perform forensic accounting services for the years 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, as the result of irregularities discovered during the county’s annual financial audit.
Roberson said he met August 17, 2017 with Meschelle Pittman and Keith Kameg, inspectors with FDLE’s Office of Executive Investigations, which is responsible for performing the investigation based on Roberson’s findings. Both Paul Marxsen and Roberson provided sworn testimony on the results of their forensic examinations.
“We were advised by FDLE, that we could not disclose our findings while the investigation is in progress.” Roberson wrote.
He said that on June 5, an FDLE communication he received said Pittman was completing her report that day, but it had to be reviewed by her superiors and the FDLE general counsel prior to issuing the results. “She declined to give a time frame for this to be completed, indicating they had higher priority cases including the school shooting in Broward County,” Roberson wrote.
In an interview with the Times in March, State Attorney Jack Campbell said the evidence gleaned by FDLE, as well as Harris’ death, had led to his office deciding to abate prosecution for any theft in office. He did not release details as to what is alleged to have occurred.
“Everything we found comes back to him being the responsible party,” said Campbell. “Obviously with his death there’s no way to proceed with criminal prosecution. The evidence is supporting that he was the sole person responsible for the theft.
“There is totally no evidence of other criminal conduct,” he said. “There’s no indication of anyone else being complicit in the crimes. Right now we have no evidence to suggest anyone else was involved.”