Adams County filed a lawsuit Thursday against its elected county treasurer, claiming “tens of millions of dollars” managed by the official have not been reconciled with the treasurer’s banking software system.
Treasurer Lisa Culpepper is named in the 12-page lawsuit filed Thursday in Adams County District Court. The county is seeking access to the treasurer’s accounts and to “ensure that the statutory obligations” of the office are met.
“The Treasurer’s Office serves as Adams County’s bank and by law accounts must be open for inspection,” the county said in a news release. “The county and its auditors have been unable to obtain the information necessary to review the county’s finances and have exhausted all efforts outside of court involvement.”
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Adams County Commissioners.
“We are united as a board that legal action is needed to ensure this independently elected office is transparent in the accounting of county taxpayers’ money,” the commissioners said in a statement. “To date, the Treasurer has not provided the required reports and has not provided the adequate information requested to enable a standard audit of the office. The limited information the board has been able to gather indicates that the treasurer is not timely or accurate in carrying out his statutory duties, which could negatively impact the county’s bond ratings and financial outlook.
Culpepper was elected Treasurer in November 2018 and took office on January 1, 2019. Her term expires on January 1, 2023.
Culpepper, a lawyer, practiced real estate and business law for 20 years, according to a profile posted on the county’s website after her election. She also worked on tax audit and compliance in criminal investigations for the State Department of Revenue for approximately 15 years.
She could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.
By state law, county treasurers are required to submit a monthly report to county commissioners. Culpepper did not submit such reports for 2019, 2020 and January through July 2021, according to the lawsuit.
“Culpepper failed to reconcile the numerous bank accounts it maintains with the Treasurer’s transaction software system,” the lawsuit alleges.
“Although Treasurer Culpepper began submitting reports to (board) in August 2021, (board) has reason to doubt the accuracy of these reports since Treasurer Culpepper has not reconciled her bank statements since March. 2021.”
Additionally, the county is aware of at least three times Culpepper “conducted duplicate electronic funds transfers to Adams County tax jurisdictions totaling $549,437.” The county learned of the duplicate payments when the overpaid entity reported to the county’s finance department receiving funds that were not due.
Another alleged shoddy accounting includes an overdue accounting of approximately $90 million in CARES Act funds. An independent audit revealed that the Treasurer received a CARE deposit of $90,285,974 on April 22, 2020, and it was not recorded in the Treasurer’s transaction software system until November 17, 2020, 209 days after the initial receipt, depending on the trial.
On August 18, 2021, the County Commissioners Office sent a letter to Culpepper informing him that at least five of his employees had filed complaints about his management, including accusations of bullying and belittling.
On August 25, another letter from the commissioners was sent to Culpepper regarding “voter complaints”. Voters are complaining about not being able to get answers about tax payments, tax liens and other important business issues, the letter says. Some people have been unable to buy or sell homes in Adams County due to tax questions that the Treasurer’s Office has not answered.
Culpepper failed to meet his obligations under several state laws, according to the lawsuit. The complaint seeks that Culpepper “fully and promptly cooperate with a court-appointed audit committee” in accordance with state law.