JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri’s former director of public safety abused the state’s bidding system to award a no-bid contract to a group he had led prior to his state employment, according to a report released Wednesday by Auditor Nicole Galloway.
The audit says former Director of Public Safety Charles “Drew” Juden provided false information to the Office of Administration to justify awarding a $58,000 contract to the Missouri Police Chiefs Charitable Foundation. Juden had served as chairman of the nonprofit and was president of the Missouri Police Chiefs Association, an affiliated group.
The contract was for delivering fingerprint technology to local police departments. The Missouri State Highway Patrol had done part of that job in the past at no cost to the state, the audit said. Juden could not immediately be reached for comment.
Juden was a holdover from the administration of former Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned on June 1, 2018, after months of scandal. Gov. Mike Parson, Greitens’ replacement, fired Juden in August 2018.
The Department of Public Safety oversees the Highway Patrol, the Missouri National Guard, the Capitol Police and several other agencies and commissions.
Parson, a Republican, appointed then-Missouri Highway Patrol Col. Sandra Karsten to lead the Department of Public Safety. In November, Parson and Karsten requested that Galloway, a Democrat, audit the director’s office after an initial review uncovered “questionable” spending.
The audit released Wednesday said Juden’s office paid $1.25 million to the police chiefs foundation on June 25, 2018, for the purpose of purchasing the fingerprinting equipment, but that the association did not begin to deliver the equipment until Nov. 6, 2018.
The foundation paid the company providing the technology in February 2019.
“The organization was allowed to hold $1.25 million in state funds for approximately 8 months before being disbursed, resulting in a benefit to the organization and lost interest revenue to the state,” the audit says, adding that the state lost out on approximately $16,000 in interest.
The police chiefs also billed the state $58,000 for managing the fingerprint equipment duties “despite these services previously being provided by the MSHP at no additional cost to the state,” the audit said.
“The former Director’s prior affiliation with the MPCCF gives this contract the appearance of a conflict of interest,” the audit said.
Besides the no-bid contract, the audit also blasts Juden’s personal vacations and vehicle usage.
“The former Director submitted multiple timesheets claiming he was working for the DPS while department calendar entries show he was on several personal vacations,” the audit said.
The audit said Juden’s personal calendar showed he was in Florida while his timesheets showed he was on the clock. The audit found this occurred for a total of 15 working days.
“The DPS employee responsible for keeping the former Director’s calendar indicated the trips to Florida were for personal reasons, such as attending the 2017 and 2018 Daytona 500 NASCAR races,” the audit said. “Instead of using annual leave, the former Director certified on his timesheet that he worked full 8 hour days for the department on those days.”
Juden’s response: “When asked why he reported his time in this way, the former Director stated that as long as he had access to telephone or email, he considered himself to be working.”
When Juden left the department in August, 2018, the state paid him $6,864 for 115 hours of unused annual leave.
“[I]t is likely the former Director was overpaid for his unused annual leave, however, due to a lack of documentation we cannot determine the amount overpaid,” the audit said.
The audit also says Juden and former Deputy Director Greggory Favre “did not follow DPS vehicle usage policies and procedures.”
The audit says Juden’s state vehicle usage was 44% higher than other recent agency directors. Juden and Favre did not report personal use of their state vehicles in their tax returns “as required by the Internal Revenue Service.”
“The former Director did not keep track of odometer readings, destinations, or the purpose of trips in his assigned state vehicle as required by DPS policy,” the audit said. “The former Deputy Director kept odometer readings; however, he did not keep records for the destinations traveled or the purpose of trips.”
In response to the audit, Karsten said in a letter to Galloway that she agreed with its findings and had taken steps to correct problems within the director’s office.
Galloway is still auditing Greitens' office. A spokeswoman said the auditor will finalize its report next month. After that, Greitens or former staffers will have 30 days to submit responses before it is ultimately released.
Galloway is also continuing to audit former Attorney General Josh Hawley's office. In December, she said she would give "heightened scrutiny" to allegations the now-U.S. senator misused office resources for political purposes.