Lee County DA audit: ‘Impermissible expenditures’ and ‘noncompliance’ under former DA Brandon Hughes

Alabama News

Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes (WRBL News 3)

LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – An audit conducted by Alabama’s Department of Examiners of Public Accounts completed May 14 shows “impermissible expenditures” and “noncompliance” from Sept. 1, 2018 to Nov. 30, 2020, covering the time before former District Attorney Brandon Hughes was ousted from his role amid felony ethics charges.

In a news release, District Attorney Pro Tempore Jessica Ventiere, who was appointed to replace Hughes last November, said she requested the audit as soon as she took office.

Here is the full text of the news release:

In November 2020, Jessica Ventiere was appointed Lee County District Attorney Pro Tem, and
requested an immediate audit by the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts. The audit
was completed on May 14, 2021.

Ms. Ventiere said, “after appointment, I established protocols and internal controls and
procedures. Those protocols included the request for an immediate audit by the Department of
Examiners of Public Accounts and an internal audit to find ways to reduce unnecessary spending
within the office.”

“During the course of the formal audit, Examiners were given full access to all accounts,
expenditures, receipts, and records. Also, examiners interviewed past and present staff members.
The audit had multiple findings of noncompliance, as well as impermissible expenditures of state
funds from September 1, 2018 to November 30, 2020, prior to my appointment as District
Attorney Pro Tem.” stated Ms. Ventiere.

Ms. Ventiere said, “Obviously, the results of this audit have added to an already difficult
situation within the District Attorney’s Office. As part of my commitment to upholding the
integrity of the office and remaining transparent to the public, a copy of the audit has been
provided to our local Judges, the Alabama Attorney General, the Alabama Ethics Commission,
the Alabama State Bar, and the Office of Prosecution Services. The report is available to the
public at www.examiners.alabama.gov under audit reports.”

“As District Attorney Pro Tem, I recognize District Attorney monies belong to our citizens, and
we strive to spend responsibly and be good stewards of state funds.” Jessica Ventiere

Hughes faces seven felony charges, including five ethics violations, conspiracy to commit theft and perjury. Hughes plead not guilty to all seven and has a trial set for June.

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