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W.Va. agriculture agency audit goes to U.S. attorney

By Dave Boucher

Charleston Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An audit of the state Agriculture Department reveals “very troubling” financial activities under previous leadership, House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison said Thursday.

After reviewing initial audit findings, Miley said he and Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, ordered the information immediately go the office of the U.S. Attorney.

“To date, the audit has revealed very troubling activities and management practices by the Agriculture Department’s previous administration, including questionable accounting methods, expense reimbursements and loans administered by the agency,” Miley said in a news release.

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin confirmed the office received a referral from the legislative auditor but could not provide any additional information.

Miley told radio talk show host Hoppy Kercheval he hoped the completed audit would be released next week. Legislative Auditor Aaron Allred said Thursday he could not comment

The audit looks into activities under longtime Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass. Douglass, a Democrat, led the department for more than 40 years before retiring last year.

The audit appears to show false expense vouchers were submitted and reimbursed inappropriately, Miley told Kercheval. He also talked about a loosely controlled “friends and family loan program” at the department…

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