Adams County filed a lawsuit Thursday against its elected county treasurer, claiming that “tens of millions of dollars” managed by the official has not been reconciled with the treasurer’s banking software system.
Treasurer Lisa Culpepper is named in the 12-page complaint filed Thursday in Adams County District Court. The county seeks to gain access to the treasurer’s accounts and “ultimately ensure the statutory obligations” of the office are being met.
“The Treasurer’s Office serves as the bank of Adams County, and by law the accounts must be open to inspection,” the county said in a news release. “The county and its auditors have been unable to obtain information necessary to review the county’s finances and have exhausted all efforts short of court involvement.”
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Adams County commissioners.
“We are unified as a Board that legal action is required to ensure this independently elected office is transparent in the accounting of county taxpayer dollars,” commissioners said in a statement. “To date the Treasurer has not provided required reports and has not provided adequate information requested to allow for a standard audit of the office. The limited information the Board has been able to gather indicates the Treasurer is not timely or accurate in performing statutory duties, which could negatively impact the county’s bond rating and financial outlook.”
Culpepper was elected treasurer in November 2018 and took office Jan. 1, 2019. Her term expires Jan. 1 2023.
Culpepper, an attorney, practiced law in real estate and business for 20 years, according to a profile on the county website after her election. She also worked on tax auditing and compliance in criminal investigations for the state Department of Revenue for about 15 years.
She could not be reached for comment on Thursday evening.
By state statute, county treasurers are compelled to submit a monthly report to county commissioners. Culpepper has failed to submit such reports for 2019, 2020 and January through July of 2021, according to the lawsuit.
“Culpepper has not reconciled the many bank accounts she manages with the Treasurer’s transaction software system,” the lawsuit claims.
“Although Treasurer Culpepper began submitting reports to the (board) in August of 2021, the (board) has reason to doubt the accuracy of those reports since Treasurer Culpepper has not reconciled her bank statements since March 2021.”
Furthermore, the county knows of at least three times in which Culpepper “has made duplicate electronic funds transfers to taxing jurisdictions within Adams County totaling $549,437.” The county learned of the duplicate payments when the overpaid entity reported to the county’s Finance Department about receipt of funds that were not owed.
Other alleged shoddy bookkeeping includes a delinquent accounting of about $90 million in CARES Act funds. An independent audit found 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 Nov. 17, 2020, 209 days after initial receipt, the lawsuit claims.
On Aug. 18, 2021, the county commissioners’ office sent a letter to Culpepper informing her that at least five of her employees have come forward with complaints about her management, including accusations of bullying and belittling.
On Aug. 25, another letter from the commissioners was sent to Culpepper regarding “constituent complaints.” Constituents complain about not being able to get a response about tax payments, tax liens and other important business matters, the letter said. Some people have been unable to buy or sell homes in Adams County because of tax questions that are unanswered by the treasurer’s office.
Culpepper has failed to perform her obligated duties under multiple state statutes, according to the lawsuit. The complaint seeks to have Culpepper “fully and promptly cooperate with a court-appointed audit committee” pursuant to state law.