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State Auditor to Begin Investigation at City Hall, Frye to Be Named Interim Director

Note: This article originally appeared exclusively at The River City News Facebook page while this website was down this week

Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen appeared in Covington on Thursday afternoon alongside Mayor Sherry Carran and Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders to announce that his office would be conducting an investigation into how roughly $600,000 disappeared from the coffers.

Former Finance Director Bob Due is charged in the alleged theft and faces twenty years in prison if convicted. He is currently on house arrest at his Independence home.

Edelen said his office's investigation, which would begin later Thursday (although lengthy conversations have already occurred) and would be spearheaded by his second-in-command, would have two phases: to make sure the Commonwealth Attorney's office has all the evidence it needs to prosecute the case and to provide a road map for the city to understand how the alleged theft took place.

"We have to make sure these things don't happen in local government and that when they do, those responsible are held accountable," Edelen said. 

The auditor also applauded the city for forming its own task force that will undertake a similar investigation, with the primary objectives being to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and loss prevention in the finance department and to lay out a plan on how best to recoup the lost funds.

Edelen emphasized that his office's investigation would be independent of the work done by the task force, which meets for the first time on Wednesday at City Hall.

"Two investigations are certainly merited in a case like this," Edelen said.

Mayor Carran thanked Edelen for coming to the city and launching an independent investigation, which will be billed to Covington.

"His support and experience will create a level of stability that we need right now and I'm grateful for that," Carran said. "It's important that we have this separate audit. It's independent and it's transparent. Our citizens will feel more comfortable with it."

The city has also tapped former Kenton County Treasurer Ivan Frye to serve as Interim Finance Director. At a city commission last week, Jerome Heist, an employee in the finance department, was elevated to interim director. He will return to his previous post pending commission approval of Frye next Tuesday.

Carran and City Solicitor/Assistant City Manager Frank Warnock said that Frye started working at City Hall on Monday. A news release from the City of Covington indicated that Frye would not be a candidate for the permanent position.

While the auditor's office and the special task force will aggressively pursue options for returning the $600,000 to City Hall, Carran said that there have been no discussions about what to do with the funds once they are returned.

Rob Sanders said that the number associated with the missing money has not been released by law enforcement and that the investigations will eventually reveal the true amount.

"It's essential that we find out just how big this theft was so that justice can be served," Sanders said. "We want to make sure there was no one else with their hands in the cookie jar."

City Manager Larry Klein also thanked the auditor's office for coming to Covington. 

“We appreciate the transparency that an outside and independent state agency review brings to the process to restore public confidence,” Klein said in a news release. “Establishing good 
communication with the State Auditor early-on during this difficult period was important and helpful.”

No timeline was provided for how long the state auditor's investigation may take.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Auditor Adam Edelen speaks as Kenton Co. Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders and Covington Mayor Sherry Carran listen/RCN