Cleveland County Commissioners meeting

From Left, Cleveland County Commissioners District 1 Rod Cleveland, District 3 Harold Haralson and District 2 Darry Stacy participate in a meeting Sept. 7.

Cleveland County is under state audit after a county commissioner reported suspicious financial activity from a former employee.

District 3 Harold Haralson reported Jan. 12 that Allen Shetley, who was sworn into county employment May 2020 as a receiving officer, made suspicious supply orders to a county barn and had stolen fuel and parts from the county. Haralson reported the county terminated Shetley’s employment after officials heard reports of his suspected actions from other employees, according to a Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office report provided to The Transcript.

State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd said Wednesday her office is aware of the reported theft and is working with Cleveland County officials.

County communication director Joy Hampton said in a prepared statement Monday that Haralson requested the audit “out of an abundance of caution.”

“Given the circumstances, I anticipate that the issue will be addressed in the annual audit unless a more in-depth audit is requested,” Byrd said in her email to The Transcript.

Formal charges had not been filed against Shetley as of Monday, according to court records.

Haralson reported he discovered Jan. 11 that a company dropped off a battery at a county barn and told an employee “the commissioner” had ordered it.

In the report, Haralson said he had not ordered the battery. He found, through looking into the matter further, that Shetley had ordered many supplies without a clear reason.

Haralson also discovered the county was spending significant money on bolt products, and that the bolt supplier met Shetley at the barn on Sundays. The barn crew works Monday through Thursday, the report states.

The employee also told Haralson that Shetley had charged the entire blanket order for parts.

Another employee told Haralson that Shetley may have been diverting fuel from county vehicles, which Shetley had access to. The employee also showed pictures of parts in the back of Shetley’s pickup and raised concerns that Shetley was stealing them as well.

The report states Shetley was terminated because his boss “could not prove anything.” Hampton later clarified in her statement Monday that Haralson recently fired two employees “due to a lack of confidence in their ability to do their jobs.”

“I cannot comment on personnel matters, but I will say that we have been vigilant in protecting taxpayers and will continue to do so,” Haralson said in the statement.

The reported theft has not been presented to the board of county commissioners because it’s specific to Haralson’s district, District 1 Rod Cleveland said Friday.

Haralson said Friday the county has not taken further action beyond reporting the issues to the Cleveland County District Attorney’s office, the sheriff’s office and the auditor’s office.

He added that “it’s kind of hard to speculate” whether the audit would affect county decisions.

“I’d just have to wait and see what the audit report would be,” Cleveland said.

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