Funds Missing from Texas County Park Fund
Money is missing from the Cameron County Parks Department located on the Texas Gulf Coast, and county commissioners agreed on Feb. 2 to turn the matter over to law enforcement, the Brownsville Herald reported.
County Administrator Pete Sepulveda said they don’t have a dollar figure yet on the missing funds. As soon as officials determined something was amiss, they decided a criminal investigation was warranted, he explained.
The financial discrepancies were discovered through an electronic toll collection system that includes cameras and also a program for collecting fees for the lease of RV sites, Sepulveda said.
The system has been in place at the county’s Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island for about a year, with the discrepancies being discovered in the past 30 days, he said.
It was through a review of reports that the system generates — and the security cameras — that it was determined that funds are missing. A limited in-house inquiry followed.
Cameron County Commissioners Court unanimously agreed last week to refer the matter to law enforcement.
“At this point we don’t have an amount, but we have verified that there are funds missing,” Sepulveda said. “We don’t have an exact amount because we didn’t go too far into the investigation because I felt that we needed to bring in law enforcement to take over the investigation.”
The in-house inquiry led to the recent termination of two employees, Sepulveda said.
County Judge Carlos Cascos noted that “I’m just glad that it was caught and we are going to do whatever we need to do to take it to the full extent of the law.”
Missing funds could be from tolls or a combination of revenue, which would include lease payments for the recreational vehicle sites.
“It’s unfortunate,” Sepulveda said, but he stated that the electronic system has proven to be an effective management tool.