Mount Vernon mayor renews call for criminal investigation into former city comptroller
A audit by the State Comptroller's office has prompted Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard to renew a call for a criminal investigation into Deborah Reynold's four-year tenure as the city’s comptroller.
Mayor Patterson-Howard took to Facebook last night to talk about the key findings of the state audit.
It found former Comptroller Deborah Reynolds was responsible for nearly $170 million in unauthorized electronic transactions and more than $1.4 million in late or unpaid claims.
The audit also found Reynolds implemented a manual voucher system, that restricted the ability of Mount Vernon city officials and employees to monitor operations.
According to the mayor, Reynolds’s system also allegedly prevented officials from determining whether vendors had been paid. "This is not about incompetence. I definitely have some concerns that things were done purposely, and she created a system that was very difficult to understand," says Patterson-Howard.
Mayor Patterson-Howard calls Reynold’s conduct “malfeasance.” “The comptroller made 25 unauthorized electronic disbursements and three withdrawals totaling $416.4 million of which $15.1 million circumvented the mayor’s required counter signature of checks.”
Reynold's four-year term ended in December. She did not seek a second term. She denies the allegation in the audit. She released a statement that reads, "Mayor Patterson Howard's false accusation against the former comptroller's office is ridiculous. The mayor's departments pay their vendors when they sign off on the invoices they provide the comptroller's staff. Patterson-Howard is just trying to cover up the fact that she does not have an on time 2022 budget, and does not know how to run the city properly."
Mount Vernon residents who spoke with News 12 seemed tired of all the city's financial issues. "How long are we going to keep going through this? It's just over and over mismanagement, infighting, blah, blah blah," says Barry Nemhard, of Mount Vernon.