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An audit released by the Erie County Comptroller’s Office on Friday found a number of deficient controls in the Parks Department that allowed the theft of greens fees by a seasonal worker at Elma Meadows Golf Course to go unnoticed.

The worker, Scott M. Catlin, of Elma, was arrested last October, following a monthlong investigation by the Sheriff’s Office and parks officials, who had been tipped off by a suspicious customer at Elma Meadows. Catlin, 44, was charged with grand larceny. Authorities said he had been issuing paper receipts to some customers instead of computer-generated ones in order to skim money from the green fees he collected while operating as a cashier.

Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw said the thefts might have been prevented if workers were made to follow proper cash-handling protocols, which require that another employee verify printed receipts prior to letting customers onto the golf course.

“Procedures and policies aren’t worth the paper they’re written on unless management follows through to make sure workers are following them. We are concerned that taxpayers’ money is not being handled in a manner it deserves,” Mychajliw added.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz charged that the audit is the latest in a string of such reports by Mychajliw’s office violating professional governmental audit standards. Poloncarz spokesman Mark Cornell also accused the Comptroller’s Office of being oblivious to the thefts while in the midst of conducting its audit over a six-month period between Jan. 1 and June 30.

“Thankfully, the administration was tipped off by a patron that this employee was stealing cash, and though a coordinated effort with the Sheriff’s Office we put a stop to it and have since pressed charges,” Cornell said.

The 14-page audit also found that the county does not charge sales tax for the rental of golf equipment at its two golf courses, Elma Meadows and Grover Cleveland Golf Course in Amherst. Mychajliw said a legal opinion solicited from County Attorney Michael A. Siragusa concluded that the county should have been charging sales tax for golf-related rentals, even though it had not been over several administrations. In his audit, Mychajliw estimated that the sales taxes not collected during the six-month period of his audit totaled $7,347 for both golf courses.



email: hmcneil@buffnews.com