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Internal audit finds voided receipts, sparking an investigation

A former City of Cornelius accountant was arrested last week for allegedly loaning herself about $3,700 from city funds, according to Sgt. Bob Ray, public information officer for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Cynthia Rodriguez, 45, of Cornelius, was booked at the Washington County Jail last Wednesday and later released.

Rodriguez was indicted on seven specific allegations — three counts of computer crime in the second degree, one count of theft in the second degree, two counts of theft in the first degree and first-degree official misconduct.

According to Ray, the city noticed the Municipal Court till was short $124 in May 2012, sparking an investigation. During an internal audit, the city found voided receipts.

“The city became aware of some irregularities prior to her resignation and placed her on administrative leave,” explained Cornelius City Manager Rob Drake. “Cindy resigned while on administrative leave.”

Rodriguez resigned in August 2012, a month after going on leave.

Rodriguez allegedly pocketed cash Cornelius residents brought in when they were paying their utility bills. After writing residents a receipt, she voided the city’s copy, leaving no record they had paid their bills. Then, before scheduled late notices were mailed, Rodriguez would allegedly change the residents’ address to her home address via the city computer system. She would then collect the late notices and reportedly pay back the money to the city, as well as the $10 late fees.

She then changed the residents’ addresses back to the correct ones.

Investigators suspect Rodriguez of carrying out this scheme about 25 times, Ray said.

Rodriguez is scheduled to be arraigned in Washington County Circuit Court on April 8.

Because she was a city employee, city officials requested an outside agency to investigate the matter.

“Once the city discovered the irregularities, we requested assistance from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for further investigation,” Drake said.

Rodriguez was arrested following the investigation.

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