Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor
Financial Audit Division

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Report Summary
Metro Gang Strike Force
Special Review

 

Financial Audit Division Report 09-18 Released May 20, 2009

Conclusions

The Metro Gang Strike Force’s internal controls were not adequate to safeguard seized and forfeited property, properly authorize its financial transactions, accurately record its financial activity in the accounting records, and conduct its financial activities in a reasonable and prudent manner. The Metro Gang Strike Force was unable to account for at least $18,1261 of seized cash and could not locate or support the legal disposition of at least 13 forfeited vehicles and one seized vehicle held as evidence. The Metro Gang Strike Force did not comply with some finance-related legal requirements for seized and forfeited property. The Minnesota Gang and Drug Oversight Council and the Metro Gang Strike Force Advisory Board did not provide sufficient oversight of the Metro Gang Strike Force’s financial activity.

Key Findings

  • The Metro Gang Strike Force did not develop basic internal controls to ensure that it properly safeguarded or accounted for all seized cash, seized or forfeited vehicles, or other seized property.
  • The Metro Gang Strike Force did not adequately segregate key duties over its local checking accounts or properly use confidential informant funds.
  • The Metro Gang Strike Force used significant resources to send six officers to a conference in Hawaii without required prior approval from the board.
  • The Metro Gang Strike Force frequently did not follow the state’s statutory forfeiture procedures.
  • The Metro Gang Strike Force did not distribute forfeited money and proceeds from the sale of forfeited property in compliance with statutory requirements.

Audit Objectives and Scope

Our special review of the Metro Gang Strike Force covered the time period from July 1, 2005, through March 31, 2009, and included internal controls and legal compliance over forfeiture receipts and expenditures, confidential informant fund uses, local checking account activity, and seized and forfeited property.

Background

In February 2009, the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) was asked to review certain financial concerns at the Metro Gang Strike Force. Based on a preliminary assessment of the issues involved, we decided to conduct an immediate review, primarily to determine whether the Metro Gang Strike Force had adequate policies, procedures, and internal controls to ensure appropriate handling of seized and forfeited money and property.

The Legislature created the Metro Gang Strike Force in 2005 as part of a reorganization of the state’s approach to addressing gang and drug-related crimes. The Legislature dissolved the existing Minnesota Gang Strike Force and created a state level Gang and Drug Oversight Council with a mandate to establish and supervise multi-jurisdictional task forces and strike forces across the state. The law specifically directed the council to establish a Metro Gang Strike Force.


1In its response to the draft report, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, the Metro Gang Strike Force’s fiscal agent through December 31, 2008, asserted that it had deposited $2,960 of this amount, and that the unaccounted for amount was actually $15,166. We did not validate this claim.

 

*Seized Vehicles released June 10, 2009

The additional information we obtained during a follow up inquiry reinforced the concern expressed in our May 20 report:

the Metro Gang Strike Force managed seized and forfeited vehicles without adequate controls, authorizations, or documentation.

More Information

Office of the Legislative Auditor ♦ Room 140, 658 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55155