A forensic audit conducted by an independent professional uncovered corruption, theft, and fraud by former Greenville ISD officials, a public school district in East Texas. Local taxpayers pressured the school board to conduct the forensic examination.
The forensic auditor hired by GISD’s board, Columbus “Sandy” Alexander, turned over his report to the Texas Attorney General, which has not yet made the report public. But details of the report were given to the press, which allege there is no paper trail for $54 million in school bond expenditures. In an interview with a local news outlet, Alexander stated:
“Former GISD officials engaged in cronyism, misappropriation of payroll assets, misconduct to include mismanagement and abuse of position, and theft by gift of taxpayer monies.”
Prior to the forensic audit requested by local taxpayers, GISD Superintendent Dr. Demetrus Liggins said such a review was not necessary. Liggins claimed the cursory audit conducted by the Texas Association of School Business Officials, which he deemed sufficient, did not uncover any criminal wrongdoing. In December, 2017, prior to the forensic audit, Liggins stated his opposition to further review:
“I want to go on record as saying that if I had thought, or if I had been told, or if I had heard or even suspected that there had been fraud, I would be Gung-ho, full speed ahead, ready to have a (forensic) audit to see if that would prove who should be held responsible,” Liggins said. “At this point, with my current knowledge, I don’t think it’s necessary, because I don’t think it’ll discover anything that our own investigations haven’t already discovered.”
The results of the forensic audit have proven Liggins to be wrong. The administrator is now telling reporters he wants to get to the bottom of the scandal. It raises the question: Was Liggins’ opposition to the forensic audit based on ignorance, or was he knowingly trying to cover up criminal wrongdoing?
The GISD scandal demonstrates that the current financial audits required by state law are woefully insufficient. Every local taxing entity in Texas should be required to undergo periodic, forensic audits.