Employee tip in 2018 led to Cowlitz County coroner fraud investigation | Local

On Dec. 15, 2020, the auditor’s office interviewed Davidson, who “acknowledged personally receiving reimbursement funds from the WACME and IACME Associations for County-paid travel expenses,” and offered to repay the county with personal funds, according to the report.

The auditor’s report recommend the County seek recovery of the $12,600 and related investigation costs of $21,850 from Davidson or the county’s insurance company.

As the coroner, Davidson is an elected official and the county doesn’t have legal ability to discipline him, Swanson said. If Davidson were to resign, the county commissioners would be responsible for appointing a replacement.

According to the auditor’s report, as Davidson is responsible for managing his own department’s expenses and budget, it was difficult for the county to track the reimbursements.

“The county is disappointed in the elected coroner and deeply concerned with the facts that have emerged out of the investigative process,” a statement from the county said. “The county acknowledges and agrees with the opinions and findings from the SAO, however, given the weakness in transparency of the coroner’s office, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the county to know the coroner was seeking payment from an outside organization.”

The auditor recommended that the county improve its internal controls over the approval of travel expenses by creating a stronger oversight process and by getting a yearly disclosure from elected officials of any outside organization involvement.

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