Audit exposes possible theft from CSUF box office

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The disappearance of about $58,000 from the Clayes Performing Arts Center box office was “likely the result of criminal activity,” according to an investigative audit released by California State University in August.

On Friday, President García would not comment on the specifics of the report, calling it a personnel issue.

“The individual who is alleged to have done this … no longer works here,” García said. “The police will take care of any criminal action that must be taken care of, but we do have processes and procedures in place so this will never happen again.”

The report shows that $58,694 was received by the box office but never delivered to Auxiliary Services Corporation for deposit. ASC provides accounting services on campus.

Clerical Error

In May of 2012, College of Arts staff noticed financial discrepancies within the department. They initially concluded a clerical error and began revising cash-handling processes.

In January, an overdrawn account revealed that the mishandling was more serious than a clerical error.

In total, $58,694 never made it to ASC: $45,011 in cash and $13,683 in checks.

That same month, García wrote to California State University Chancellor Timothy White requesting an audit, which he requested of the Office of the University Auditor in February.

The investigation revealed a variety of shoddy money-handling practices between the box office and the ASC.

Auditors noted that over a two-and-a-half month period, the deposits for 14 shows sat undeposited for inappropriately long lengths of times.

CSU guidelines dictate that deposits happen at least weekly, or when collections exceed $500.

The audit recommended that the university overhaul cash handling procedures, which García said has been completed.

During the period studied, November 2011 to November 2012, box office employees counted the money that came in, then carried it by hand to the ASC.

ASC staff would verify the total by noting the amount written on the envelope by the box office. ASC staff did not open the envelopes to count the cash, according to the audit.

Box office was given a receipt using the amount written on the envelope and the cash was then deposited in the bank.

However, in May 2012, one of the departments reported that an Interdepartmental Transfer (IDT) form was not properly filed.

The box office was not immediately processing IDTs that transferred money to the other departments within the College of Arts.

When the buildup of IDTs was finally processed, the box office account did not contain enough money to cover the transfers.

This tipped off the director of marketing and patron services for the College of Arts, who then uncovered other problems.

Specifically, the IDTs lacked important details and backup documentation.

A new system was introduced which required IDTs to be backed up with documentation and processed in a more timely manner.

Account Overdrawn

In January 2013, an overdrawn ASC deposit account prompted the director to compare sales revenues to deposits to the ASC.

Looking at the books revealed that $58,694 was missing.

The audit shows the money disappeared between November 2011 and November 2012. It is unknown whether box office policies and procedures were being followed for the duration of this review period.

Additionally, the director was unable to find physical copies of box office procedures that might have been in place at the time.

However, auditors found a document titled “Verification of Funds Report.” This report laid out a timeline for procedures starting when someone bought a ticket and ending when the deposits and transfers were documented.

Due to box office staff turnover, auditors were unable to verify if the procedures outlined in this report were ever used or if it was only a draft.

The document containing these procedures had been sent via email in November 2011 from the former box office fiscal manager to the box office manager, neither of whom are still employed at the campus.

The box office manager, Sandra Clark, died in September 2012.

The Verification of Funds Report, said it was the job of the box office fiscal manager and the box office manager to verify transactions to the ASC on a monthly basis.

Account reconciliation should be performed by an individual not in charge of handling cash receipts or deposits, meaning the box office fiscal manager should not have been assigned to this task, the audit shows.

The auditors said the “Verification of Funds Report” was not in compliance with CSU money-handling guidelines.

The audit shows that if adequate reconciliation procedures had been enforced, any missing funds would likely have been prevented or discovered in a timely manner.

Auditors found no evidence that the box office had prepared any reconciliations.

Magdalena Guillen contributed to this report.

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