Mary E. Pickett

Mary E. Pickett

The former child support officer supervisor indicted in Boyd County late last year has had her case refereed to federal authorities, according to the Auditor of Public Accounts.

Mary Pickett, 55, was arrested Dec. 3, 2019, and charged with a 77-count indictment alleging she stole $113,000 over a seven-year period from the Child Support Office.

 During a Thursday press conference, the commonwealth's top auditor Mike Harmon announced that findings made by his office into her activities have been forwarded to the FBI.

Boyd County Commonwealth Attorney Rhonda Copley confirmed Thursday that she is “anticipating a federal resolution in the case.”

That's because the Child Support Office receives the federal government, too.

While the case is still pending in state court, the recently released findings by the auditor's office shed a little more light on some of the conduct Pickett is charged with. The conclusions are a result of an audit conducted on nine county attorney offices, including Lawrence and Boyd.

Amongst the many duties of county attorneys in Kentucky, handling child support enforcement is one of them.

The report states that between 2015 and 2019, the Boyd County Child Support Enforcement program was monitored by the Cabinet of Health and Family Services. During that time period, Pickett was the point of contact for cabinet officials during site visits. The cabinet concluded there were no issues with the office, per the report.

What the auditor's office found Pickett transferred moneys from an account the cabinet deposited in for the office to other accounts the cabinet was unaware of, according to the report. It was from those accounts that Pickett paid herself, the report states.

Focusing on fiscal year 2018, the report states payroll records showed Pickett received $27,000 in net pay for duties at the office.

However, the auditors allege Pickett paid herself an extra $16,058 that year.

The report shows Pickett paid about $3,870 to herself through an “contract” with in which she cleaned the office. Another $4,003 was paid to herself through extra payroll checks, according to the report. That accounts for about $7,873 of extra payments.

The remaining $8,185 came from a savings account deduction, the report shows.

Pickett elected to have $200 deducted from her check and another employee elected to have $105 deducted from his or her check to be placed into a savings account, the report states. By the end of fiscal year 2018, the auditor's report states the account should have had $7,873.

A review of the account showed it actually had $20,180 by the year's end, an excess of $12,250. Eighty checks were written for multiple expense accounts and deposited into the account — 37 were written by PIckett, accounting for the $8,185, the auditors stated.

The remaining $4,100 could not be validated, according to the auditors.

The way Pickett paid for all this, according to report, was through over-billing.

In fiscal year 2018, the child support office received $420,000 from the state to cover wages, benefits and other operating costs, like utilities and rent. So what Pickett did was submit reimbursement to the state for more, according to the report.

For instance, between June 2018 and July 2019, the report states the Child Support Office submitted a reimbursement claim for $41,200 for renting its building two years in advance from the county. However, the fiscal court received only $26,800 of the amount, the report noted.

Salary requests were adjusted, too — in fiscal year 2018, the report states Pickett submitted reimbursement requests for $17,000 more than what was necessary to maintain the payroll.

During the Thursday press conference, Harmon described the episode as auditors just doing their job.

“We simply asked the questions and she admitted it to the county attorney,” Harmon said. “What we do is shine the light that led to law enforcement getting involved. That's why this office is critical in providing oversight to our public institutions.”

(606) 326-2653 |

henry@dailyindependent.com

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