Conroe and New Caney, April 19 – With terminated County Auditor Phyllis Martin as his Chief of Staff, Precinct 4 Montgomery County Commissioner James Metts flunked an internal audit of his employees’ time sheets. Montgomery County Auditor Rakesh Pandey and his internal audit staff conducted the completed audit, which found twenty-nine (29) errors with respect to time entries and the submission of time cards and data for the period ending February 22, 2019.
County Auditor Pandey conducted a similar audit of the entire Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, which has approximately thirteen (13) times the number of employees as Metts, and found one (1) error. Pandey’s audit of Metts and Martin appears in its entirety at the end of this article.
When Martin was the County Auditor, she regularly passed Metts in internal audits for his Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 Department, even though many of his employees complained to staff in the County Auditor’s office of Martin with respect to discrepancies, as five (5) of his former employees have confirmed to The Golden Hammer.
The Board of District Judges terminated Martin, effective December 31, 2018, after an External Quality Assessment, dated August 3, 2018, by the independent accounting firm of Postlethwaite & Netterville, determined that Martin only “partially conforms” to the professional auditing and accounting standards for internal auditors. The Board ultimately appointed Pandey to replace Martin effective January 1, 2019.
Clearly, Martin’s difficulties with conformance to professional auditing and accounting standards have extended into her job performance as Metts’ Chief of Staff. Numerous citizens of Commissioners Precinct 4 have complained to this newspaper that Martin refuses to communicate with them, won’t return telephone calls, and blocks their ability to reach Metts, who is their elected servant.
Metts and Martin both failed to return telephone calls from this newspaper seeking comment for this story.
Metts has increased the Precinct 4 Commissioner’s staff and taken funds budgeted for road materials and repairs to pay his bloated group, which includes his girlfriend, at least one family member, a convicted felon who is a close Metts associate, and others with poor employment histories.
As Pandey explained in the Internal Audit Report, the objective of the audit was to ensure the accurate recording and payment of payroll. Pandey’s report found that:
- The time worked and leave blanks were “incorrectly calculated” for 14 employees;
- Compensatory time was “incorrectly calculated” for 11 employees; and
- Proper payroll codes were missing for 4 employees.
Since those precise matters were the subject of Martin’s duties as Montgomery County Auditor, the failure of Metts and Martin to meet even minimum standards for County government employee payroll reflects deep internal problems inside of the Precinct 4 Commissioner Office. Those problems are consistent with the observation of at least three current employees who have reported that Metts rarely comes into work and usually appears only for public photograph opportunities. (All three requested confidentiality for fear of reprisal from Metts and Martin.)
The internal audit report indicated that Metts and Martin accepted the findings of Pandey. Pandey recommended that management, including Martin and Metts, should undergo additional training and that they should regularly review time and attendance records before submitting payroll information to the Montgomery County Treasurer’s Office.
The Montgomery County Auditor, Rakesh Pandey, concluded, “Ultimately, the official [Metts and Martin] has the responsibility for accuracy and completeness of financial transactions and ensuring effective controls are in place.”