MARLIN, TX — Missing checks, deleted accounts, some not even the Mayor or City Manger could access. Leaders in a Falls County town have a financial mystery on their hands.
Marlin leaders Saturday did what most cities would deem "unthinkable". They publicly announced and discussed a shocking report on city finances.
They also made a promise, to "follow the money" and repair what sounds like a huge hit to the city's financial health.
"October 29th, delete, delete, delete, delete....." said Marlin Mayor Carolyn Lofton as she went over the results of the most recent audit of Marlin city finances, an audit which she says, turned up numerous "red-flags" , "irregularities" and maybe, missing money.
"4 pages of voided checks, there's a lot of unposting of checks deleting of accounts, it's just extensive," she said.
Most cities would try to hide this bad news, but not Lofton and not the New Marlin.
Still, it doesn't surprise Bob Dunkum, who knows what he calls the "old" Marlin all too well.
"Not really, Marlin's been corrupt for a long time in many facets," he said.
Lofton echoed those same feelings but came clean at a Saturday press conference to maintain open communication with the people of Marlin.
City Manager Cedric Davis, calls that, one of the reasons for the city audit in the first place.
"What the auditor said, he says start looking when you see a lot of void or a lot of movement," Davis explained.
And he says that auditor found plenty, recommending a further step to assess the damage.
"We won't know until we get a forensic auditor looking at the books," said Mayor Lofton.
Taking a microscopic look at the business dealings of Marlin.
How much money is missing from Marlin? Well without that detailed forensic audit it's impossible to tell for sure, to an exact dollar amount. However, there are people at city hall who say the losses run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some speculate, as much as a million dollars or more missing from city coffers.
What's happened obviously frustrates people here, but Mayor Lofton calls it just another project in her "clean sweep" of the town.
"If its something negative that's being done, it needs to be exposed so we can correct it," she stated.
City leaders also revealed the fact that the city's finance director quit just ahead of the audit's release. But not once did they mention Vicki Grimes' name.
"Our forensic auditor is gonna reveal what's happened, how and where."
... and hopefully who. Something likely to pique the interest of the law.
City leaders have already alerted the FBI to the potential issues.
First thing Monday -- the Texas attorney general and the state Comptroller will get information packages on the possible problems in Marlin.
But for now, Marlin waits, and wonders.
"If it turns out to be millions of dollars missing would I be surprised? Yes I would, because that's a lot of money," said Dunkum.