Audit finds that some Greensboro police officers were overpaid from federal cold case grant

by Jordan Green

Greensboro’s internal audit office found that employees of the Greensboro police department were paid in excess of hours recorded and for work that was not documented on timesheets on a project funded by the US Justice Department to use DNA to solve cold cases.

The audit came to light in a packet of materials released by Chief Tim Bellamy to the Pulpit Forum, a group of Greensboro African-American pastors, earlier this month. Bellamy’s response to 97 questions posed by the pastors included a series of memos exchanged between the internal audit office, the police department and the city manager’s office.

The audit also found two instances in which employees were not paid for hours worked, and a case in which one employee received another employee’s pay in error. The audit also noted that the budget ordinance passed unanimously by the city council in 2007 documented only the $310,800 federal grant and not a $291,031 local match to pay part of the salaries of employees that worked on the project.

The audit, which was presented to the police department in April, found that omitting information about local match funds from financial records did “not reflect total project activity as required by generally accepted accounting principles.”

Internal Audit Director Len Lucas said the audit was requested last October by then- Assistant Chief Gary Hastings. Then captain of the criminal investigation division, Hastings is identified on the application as the person responsible for directing the program. Hastings has since retired from the force.

The department’s grant application states that the program “offers a significant opportunity for the city of Greensboro to address its violent history of unsolved homicides, rapes and serious assaults. The trust and confidence citizens have in their police department is largely impacted by the ability of the police to solve major crimes.”

Among the questions posed by the pastors were: “How many cold cases were investigated? How many cold cases were resolved?

How was the decision made on what cold cases would be investigated, and how were these monies allocated and spent?” Those were not answered in any of the materials the chief submitted in response.

An abstract of the application pledged, “Cases with potential DNA evidence will be thoroughly reviewed and updated with information regarding witnesses, victims and other persons with knowledge. A detailed stepby-step procedural guideline for personnel involved as been clearly established. Funding is sought for training, overtime expenses, investigative travel and general follow-up on these cold cases.” One of the most significant reasons for investing in the investigation and prosecution of cold cases is to give victims and their family members a sense of closure, the application indicates.

“In 1992, sexual assault and kidnapping was being reviewed and a hit was obtained for a suspect in the CODIS database,” the application reads. “The suspect was arrested and convicted and sentenced to life in prison. The victim in this case described excruciating pain, stress, anxiety and a permanent feeling of helplessness. With the arrest and conviction of the suspect, she described sleeping well for the first time in 14 years.”

Law enforcement, armed with DNA and other “21 st century technologies posses a significant threat to violent criminals that victimize our citizens,” the application concludes.

Chief Bellamy said in an April 30 memo that he concurred with the internal audit office’s findings, and that he would assign Sgt. Kevin Moore to work with the city’s finance department to make proper adjustments. Sgt. Moore told YES! Weekly that since that time all required payroll adjustments have been made.

Lucas wrote in a May 7 memo to City Manager Rashad Young: “We feel that sufficient corrective actions have been implemented to our recommendations as we move forward.”