CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -The rules have changed for Charleston County employees who use purchasing cards. The P-cards are supposed to be used for work-related purchases and not for personal use.
We began investigating after someone anonymously sent us copies of internal memos that detailed problems with P-card spending.
One of the documents was an audit that addressed missing receipts for several purchases.
The audit also questioned if certain purchases were work related or if they were cases of misuse or abuse. It was sparked by last year’s arrest of Patty Pace for embezzlement of public funds.
Charleston County deputies say Pace, an employee in the Emergency Management Department, charged more than $24,000 worth of items on her P-card.
According to the audit there were concerns about food bought without proper justification and some overspending for training seminars.
The audit also says there was a problem with travel expenses.
That includes the purchase of a guest pass, a luxury car upgrade, the use of a P-card for valet parking and room service.
It turns out the car upgrade was free and was no cost to taxpayers. The audit also discovered that uniforms were bought with the card which is against county policy.
Auditors also said several employees were using reward cards to buy items for county business. That is not allowed.
We reached out to the county for a response to what was found in the audit.
They sent us more than 20 documents explaining the purchases and what they've done to fix the problems raised in the audit.
The memos stated that either corrections in the use of P-cards were made in some departments and that things were done by the book in others.
However a department head in one department had his P-card suspended for six months because the county said he used it for personal expenses at a conference and didn't immediately pay everything back.
The department head did eventually pay back the $372 charge.
County spokesman Shawn Smetana says that as a result of the audit, one employee was suspended for a day for a p-card violation and their card was suspended for a year.
Smetana says a second
employee lost P-card privileges for a year.