PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — At Tuesday’s Commission meeting, Panama City commissioners approved a forensic audit for $175,000. Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors will look through the city’s entire budget.
“For the scope that they’re going to have to go through, 175,000, I’m not surprised. I really thought was going to be more than that,” Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki said. “And I’m glad it was less.”
The audit is the result of former Community Redevelopment Agency department head Michael Johnson’s alleged theft of at least $555,000 from the city.
Police said Johnson laundered money through The Friends of After School Assistance Program to buy homes throughout Panama City.
They said he then used CRA money to hire contractors to renovate two of the homes on Grace Avenue.
Brudnicki said he wouldn’t be surprised if auditors find more money missing.
“I wouldn’t be surprised. I hope that they don’t, but I hope that they look hard enough that if there is, they find it,” Brudnicki said.
Commissioner Josh Street said the forensic audit is well worth the cost.
“I mean, frankly, it seems like a great investment for the city to make to not only assure our citizens that everything is above board moving forward, but also for us to get back any tax dollars that were stolen,” Street said.
Brudnicki expected the audit to take three to four months. Johnson is currently being held in the Bay County Jail.