St. Francois County Prosecutor Jerrod Mahurin.
Jerrod Mahurin, the elected prosecutor of St. Francois County and the subject of an RFT investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and unprofessional conduct
, is now in the crosshairs of Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway.
In a letter to St. Francois County's board of commissioners, Galloway revealed that her office had been contacted by a whistleblower with "credible information" alleging financial mismanagement.
"The allegations presented to my office include that county funds were spent inappropriately on questionable expenditures by the county prosecutor," Galloway wrote in the August 6 letter. "In addition, the whistleblower expressed concerns with alleged bonus payments being made to employees of the prosecutor's office without the approval of the county commission."
Galloway's mention of bonuses is notable, as sources connected to the St. Francois government have leveled similar accusations against Mahurin to the RFT
— namely, that he used funds overseen by the state, and not the county, to reward certain employees with bonuses.
Several sources, including Lisa Davidson, a former employee in the prosecutor's office, alleged to RFT
that the bonuses Mahurin awarded in 2015 represented payoffs to a group of female employees who had previously sought to file sexual harassment complaints against him.
In a June interview, Mahurin denied those allegations and maintained that all salary increases were approved by the county commission. One day after that interview, he fired Davidson
In addition, former St. Francois County auditor Bret Burgess — who also clashed with Mahurin and resigned in 2017 — said that he had personally warned Mahurin about using state-managed funds to pay county employees.
"I was not supportive about him paying out of discretionary funds, that were for other purposes, for bonuses," Burgess told the RFT
in an interview in May. He added that he believed Mahurin had halted the practice in 2015.
That year has also drawn interest from Galloway. In her letter to the county commission, the state auditor requested that records be retained "for at least 2015 to the current period."
In the letter, Galloway stated that upon initial review of the whistleblower's claims, "I have determined that these allegations are credible," adding, "Given the number of county employees potentially involved, an independent audit is necessary to determine whether and to what extent public resources were improperly used."
To be clear, Galloway's letter doesn't equal an active investigation. Under state law, a government entity must request an independent audit by passing an ordinance or resolution. (That's what happened in St. Louis city earlier this year
, when the Board of Aldermen passed a resolution asking Galloway to audit the city.) County commissioners would have to authorize her request to investigate.
Reached today, Steph Deidrick, a spokeswoman for Galloway, says that the auditor's office "does not prejudge or make an assumption" about the subject of an investigation. At the same time, Deidrick notes the auditor has seen enough to warrant a closer look at the prosecutor's office.
"We have information that we received through the whistleblower hotline," Deidrick says. "That information was reviewed by the auditor and audit staff, and we deemed those allegations to be from a trustworthy source, and troubling and concerning."
We've reached out to Mahurin at the St. Francois County prosecutor's office, and we'll update this story if he responds.
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com
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