. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

State Auditor Tim Keller today released his audit of the Otis Mutual Domestic Water Consumers and Sewage Works Association for Fiscal Year 2016.

The audit was conducted by an independent accounting firm and confirmed that alleged theft from the association totals nearly $850,000. The money was intended for general operations and upkeep of a system that provides potable water to more than 4,000 people in the area.

The association’s office manager, Lori Whitaker, resigned prior to the start of FY 2016 after reportedly admitting to the theft; it was determined Whitaker had used the association’s credit card to make cash withdrawals at several New Mexico casinos.

“This is a staggering amount of money for a small community that should be used for water, not an employee’s personal bank account,” said Keller. “While the community recovers from having nearly the entire bank account drained, we urge them to use the audit as a roadmap to implement policies and procedures to keep this from happening again.”

The audit found the following losses:

• 2015: $12,087
• 2016: $274.927
• 2017: $558,447 (unaudited until the FY17 audit that is due December 15, 2017)

The auditor previously referred the criminal matter to the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.