HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) - In an internal investigation made public Thursday, Hampton police say lax practices were to blame for $8,000 in misused travel funds.
The investigation into the Hampton Police Division's misuse of money stemmed from an undercover cigarette sales operation solicited by Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms starting in June 2010.
A previous investigation by the State Police revealed $8,000 was spent by the department in undocumented travel and investigative funds.
In a video statement, City Manager Mary Bunting said the Hampton Police Division borrowed a policy for the operation from another Virginia police department for handling the ATF cigarette sting. It did not require documentation of travel or other investigative funds even though Hampton police policies do.
"All travel was for legitimate law enforcement purposes however there are questionable expenses such as costly meals on training trips," Bunting said.
According to the documents, the investigation was funded by previous "churning-based" sales of cigarettes at an ATF site in Virginia, not by the ATF nor the City of Hampton.
A memorandum between Hampton police and the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office stated monthly, quarterly and yearly audits were required for the cigarette sting. However, the investigation revealed the monthly audits were "conducted by an HPD employee... [who] was not an accountant, bookkeeper or otherwise trained in tracking financial transactions."
It was discovered in October 2010 an ATF agent had conducted illegal actions, which led to the ATF pulling out of the sting. The internal investigation revealed the ATF told the the U.S. Attorney's Office in February 2011 they "had no more staff or support to provide to the Hampton-based operation."
When the ATF pulled out, the "churning expenses" were not stopped. The investigation reveals all of the expenses charged after the ATF exit were related to the operation.
The internal investigation concludes by stating that the police division insufficiently handled the operational and administrative details of the sting.
Police Chief Charles Jordan resigned earlier this month after being placed on administrative leave. Jordan shut down the cigarette sting when he was alerted to police officers misusing money from the operation.
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