State: Nearly $1.4M worth of iPads, other items missing in Gary

Gary's City Hall is seen in this file photo. In June, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said in a statement the city was cooperating with authorities in the investigation.

GARY | Nearly $1.4 million worth of items, including nearly 900 iPad Air tablets, allegedly acquired by a former Gary municipal employee could not be found in the city's possession, according to a state report. 

An Indiana State Board of Accounts inquiry revealed the Apple devices and other missing products were acquired on city accounts by former IT Department employee Monique Bowling Boyd, according to the state agency.

Boyd could not be immediately reached for comment.

The news release from state examiner Paul D. Joyce said a thorough investigation of the city's assets revealed none of the questioned items were in the municipality's possession.

According to Joyce, the vendor who sold the equipment is still owed more than $900,000. He declined Tuesday to release the name of the vendor.

According to the release, an investigation was conducted in conjunction with Indiana State Police, the FBI and the IRS. The results of the investigation have been turned over to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Indiana to consider criminal charges.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said regulations prohibit the office from discussing the existence of investigations.

The inquiry was reportedly initiated after a authorities discovered some items purchased by the city apparently up for sale. Indiana State Police said in May they began investigating Gary city employees after receiving a report of a crime involving Apple products and the city's Department of Information Technology.

In June, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said in a statement the city was cooperating with authorities in the investigation.

"This is a coordinated effort, and we are fully on board with the continued investigation," Freeman-Wilson said in that statement. 

Joyce said the findings of the state Board of Accounts were discussed in August with the city's Controller M. Celita Green.

According to the special investigation report, 878 iPad Airs, 34 MacBooks, two AppleCares and 10 Smart cases for the iPad Airs were missnig.

City officials reportedly told auditors they do not routinely purchase, or use, Apple equipment other than a few cellphones and possibly a few computers and tablets. Excluding cellphones, the report stated only a few Apple items were discovered following an inventory done by city police and finance employees. 

In a written response to the audit report, city officials said they immediately began implementing internal controls to address the problems found by the state.

"All Departments have been informed that Open Purchase orders will no longer be issued," according to the response signed by Green.

"All purchase orders must itemize specific services for orders to be made. It is my understanding that the majority of the unauthorized purchases were made through no purchase orders, or unauthorized purchase orders as they were not issued through the Controller's Office, and for some entities that were not City of Gary departments or did not fall under the auspices of purchase orders issued by the Controller's Office."

According to the response, due to reduced staffing over the past 10 years, the Accounts Payable division was reduced to one employee from three, and that possibly contributed to inefficient internal controls. 

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