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iTeam investigation prompts change in approach to purchasing gift cards for drug court

Updated: Nov 14, 2018

Written by KALLIE CART, Thursday, March 1st 2018

[Charleston, WV - WVAH Eyewitness News Website: wvah .com]

CHARLESTON, WV. (WCHS/WVAH) — Another iTeam exclusive investigation, as we continue to track your tax dollars, into thousands of dollars in gift cards purchased by the state's drug courts.

In 2016 and 2017, West Virginia drug courts bought 529 gift cards, adding up to $105,094. The gift cards are used as incentives for participants in drug court, which offers those who have committed low-level drug crimes, to get clean, instead of going to jail.

For West Virginia Auditor JB McCuskey, whose office handles state purchasing, the numbers pose a few issues.

"We have a policy in the West Virginia Auditor's Office that the purchasing card isn't to be used for gift cards in general," McCuskey said.

All of the gift cards were purchased with state purchasing cards or p-cards. McCuskey said the policy against gift cards is in place because buying gift cards is an easy way to commit fraud. Participants pay what they can into the drug court and we were told that is the money used for the gift card incentives, not taxpayer dollars, but the auditor's office points out that anything purchased on a p-card, is coming from the general fund.

"The transparency ends at that level, so, you can purchase a gift card and what is bought on the gift card is unknown. We don't know what that gift card ended up buying; we just know that a p-card was used to buy a gift card," McCuskey said. McCuskey added that exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis, if his office gives permission.

Eyewitness News filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the auditor's office, and after combing through hundreds of documents and receipts, a few caught our eye: two, $1,000 gift cards to Walmart bought in Hardy County, a gift card for a very specific $288.04, purchased in Wayne County, and two $50 gift cards to Victoria's Secret purchased for a juvenile drug court participant in Raleigh County.

We took the findings to... [ CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE ]


[CURATED CONTENT: Written by KALLIE CART, Thursday, March 1st 2018

[Charleston, WV - WVAH Eyewitness News Website:].]

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