A former city employee who stole, tried to sell city property

Monday, January 23, 2023 Joe Clifton

Investigators from the Austin City Auditor’s office were fired a report This shows a former employee of the Communications and Technology Department who “stole and attempted to sell a mobile device owned by the city in December 2021.” That employee, former IT support analyst Brian Cox, resigned from City in April 2022, thus avoiding firing.

According to the report, which was released last week, CTM employees discovered the theft after Cox tried to sell the device for $1,000 on an online marketplace. The post included a photo of what appeared to be a mobile device owned by the city. CTM personnel notified the Austin Police Department, who recovered the device from Cox.

Cox initially told police he did not have it before eventually turning the device over to APD.

The device was described in the report as “a handheld device intended for public safety personnel. This device was one of 29 that the manufacturer sent to the CTM Wireless Store for field testing by employees, including Cox.” Although the city tested the devices, only that she didn’t buy any in the end. According to the report, the devices were made available at no cost and the manufacturer clearly did not expect to return them.

When the audit team spoke to Cox, he told them “he had found the device in one of his old work bags.” Cox said he decided to post the device for sale online rather than return it, because he did not want to deal with the “headache” of returning it. Cox asserted he did not have permission to sell The device. He also admitted trying to sell the device for $1,000 but denied trying to sell any other items from the wireless store.”

When given the opportunity to respond to the allegations, Cox did not deny taking the device and apologized for “giving the COA CTM Wireless Department reason for this investigation.”

In the course of the investigation, investigators looked at CTM’s inventory records, which initially seemed to show about $29,000 in missing inventory. However, after the staff did some more research, the value of the missing inventory was reduced to about $11,000. The investigators wrote, “We could not determine whether any of the missing inventory was stolen, misplaced, or in use but not properly accounted for.” Separately, the wireless store said it could not account for two of the same mobile devices that Cox tried to sell. “.

In conducting the investigation into the Wireless Store’s inventory, the auditors “found several examples of poor controls and procedures related to inventory management. Specifically, the Wireless Store was not keeping track of experimental products, such as the device Cox tried to sell, in the same way that it would normally use purchased inventory.” “. The auditors also found what they called “poor segregation of duties within the Wireless Store. All Wireless Store employees can receive shipments, as well as enter and remove inventory from the store’s inventory management software. Furthermore, once items are removed from inventory, there are no records of which items properly disposed of. These conditions can increase the risk of theft.”

The audit team concluded that the wireless store addressed many of the issues mentioned in the report. CTM now tracks trial products in the same way it tracks purchased equipment and the department has improved how it tracks inventory.

Michael Yamma worked as a Senior Investigator in Audit.

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