DA investigating alleged mismanagement of taxpayer money by Kern County Fair officials

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer confirmed Monday her office is looking into allegations of mismanagement of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars by senior officials at the Kern County Fair.

Zimmer said her office has received sufficient information to warrant an investigation, whether it’s civil or criminal, by the Public Integrity Unit.

The California State Auditor’s Office released a report in August stating officials at a county fair misappropriated more than $300,000. It did not name which fair misappropriated the money, but sources confirmed to KGET the unnamed fair is the Kern County Fair.

The misused funds include:

  • $132,584 of credit card purchases for which the association had no supporting receipts.
  • $130,396 of individual credit card purchases exceeding $100 for which the CEO did not sign pre-approved purchase orders.
  • $30,048 for excessive and illegal out‑of‑state travel expenses.
  • $14,170 of credit card purchases for which the association did not have itemized receipts to verify that they were for legitimate, business‑related expenses.
  • $5,859 for airline tickets that employees purchased on their cal‑cards, even though state policy prohibits the use of cal‑cards for travel‑related purchases.
  • $5,188 for late fees and interest because the association did not pay its credit card bills on time.
  • $1,986 of wasteful tips that far exceeded the maximum allowable reimbursement rate.
  • $1,259 for inappropriate purchases of alcohol

The DA’s announcement comes as KGET has obtained a letter written by Kern County Fair CEO Michael Olcott nine days before the state audit was released.

In the letter, Alcott wrote, in part:

“We have no knowledge of any fraud or suspected fraud that affects the entity and involves management or employees who have significant roles in internal control.”

KGET reached out to the Olcott and each member of the fair board for comment, but did not hear back.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest News

More Local News