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Forensic audit to reveal how money was used for upkeep at Blandford Cemetery

Posted at 10:12 PM, Jan 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-17 23:25:20-05

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Petersburg Interim City Manager Tom Tyrrell said in a press release that Petersburg is still trying to account for $100,000 of the money people paid the city when they bought burial plots to make sure historic Blandford Cemetery is maintained.

New Council Member Charlie Cuthbert opened up a can of worms at last week's council meeting when he asked how much money sits in the perpetual care fund to maintain Blandford.

At first, the Interim Finance Director, Nelsie Birch, shocked Cuthbert by sharing that fund had just $85,000 in it.

But, since then, Birch located three accounts holding the funds totaling $1.4 million.

Still, while doing her research, Birch found something that concerned her.

"The finance director sent notification to the treasury to move money from one checking account to another," Birch said.

What's supposed to happen, Birch said, is City Council has to approve all transfer of funds from the perpetual care fund to the general fund to pay for cemetery maintenance.

Blandford Cemetery

Yet, for reasons unknown, the old finance director bypassed city council and just asked the treasurer to transfer $500,000 over the past two years.

Birch said at this point it appears the city did use the funds for maintenance, but questions remain.

"What we don't know though is that, that was actually why they transferred the money over," Birch said.

New Mayor Sam Parham said a forensic audit ordered last year by council should get to the bottom of it.

"Do you feel in any way accountable yourself since you've been on council for a while when this was happening?" CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit asked Parham.

"That's why we gonna do this forensic audit so we can find out definitely what happened," Parham responded.

Birch said the forensic audit is expected to be completed sometime this summer.