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Wyandanch library officials misspent thousands of dollars, audit reports

Wyandanch Public Library at 14 South 20 St.,

Wyandanch Public Library at 14 South 20 St., seen on Nov. 20, 2014. Credit: James Carbone

Wyandanch Public Library officials paid tens of thousands of dollars for questionable overtime, travel and other expenses, according to a stinging audit released Thursday by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli's office.

The findings have been forwarded to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota for further review, the comptroller's office reported.

The audit found that a former library board president routinely changed payroll records for her nephew, a library custodian, so he would be paid for working on days he did not clock in or out. The audit questioned $19,534 of pay for 83 such workdays, including one when he was paid for 21.5 hours.

The five-person library board did not provide oversight adequate to prevent "fraud, waste and abuse," the audit found.

DiNapoli's audit also found that the library treasurer did not make required deposits.

The names of the former board president, Nancy Holliday, her nephew, Kwaisi McCorvey, and library treasurer Joan C. Woodhull do not appear in the audit report, but the comptroller's office provided them after a request from Newsday. A woman who answered the phone at Holliday's residence Thursday hung up without commenting. McCorvey and Woodhull could not be reached for comment.

The library, which has about 30 employees, spent $1.3 million in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012.

The audit, which covers the period from July 1, 2011, to Sept. 30, 2012, states that:

Woodhull failed to deposit $4,638 in cash receipts, most of it in small bills and coins. Questioned by auditors about missing cash, she said some of it might be sitting in boxes in her garage. She later turned in $1,265 in new bills, telling auditors she'd found the money in her garage.

Seven library employees spent $14,406 to attend two American Library Association conferences where they filed expenses for, among other things, a cooking class and a dinner/jazz cruise.

The board spent $954 on "refreshments" at 13 monthly meetings.

Library officials paid $21,350 to an information technology consultant without verifying that the consultant had any experience or certification, and without seeking proposals from competitors.

In a response included with the report, library board president Erskine Trotman wrote that the audit examined a "distinct period of time when it [the library] was in a state of flux due to the loss of a longtime director." He added that "the corrective action needed to make . . . improvements is minimal and is already underway."

The board has replaced its treasurer and was never notified by its hired financial professionals about financial "anomalies," Trotman said in the response.

In an interview Thursday, Trotman said the audit contained "inaccuracies," but declined to elaborate, adding trustees would discuss its findings with board lawyers first. Trotman has served on the board five years and as president for two, he said, taking that office after the period covered by the audit.

McCorvey still works for the library, he said. Holliday is currently a library board trustee, according to the comptroller.

According to the audit, Holliday changed McCorvey's time clock records 109 times, sometimes creating entries for days when he did not clock in or out.

During one six-day stretch in January 2012, McCorvey did not clock in at all, but was credited with 54.25 hours of work after Holliday manually created a time entry for him for each day. McCorvey was paid $939 for that time.

"While the Board does concede there were some errors in the payroll, the Board actively took a role in trying to address those issues," board officials wrote in their response to the audit.

Auditors responded that they were not describing "errors" but malfeasance by a public official. "The substance of our finding is that a Board member used her position and authority to override internal controls and usurp the Director's duties in order to adjust time records for a family member," they wrote.

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