- Associated Press - Thursday, July 7, 2016

HYDEN, Ky. (AP) - A former eastern Kentucky sheriff has denied any wrongdoing after a state auditor concluded that he owes more than $260,000 to make up for deficits resulting from poor record keeping, overspending and disallowed spending on food, alcohol and Christmas cards.

In two audit reports released Tuesday, Auditor Mike Harmon said he’s recommending that former Leslie County Sheriff Paul Howard pay back about $266,000, news outlets reported.

Harmon’s office said Howard is personally responsible for repaying about $104,000 to cover a 2014 shortfall for overspending, not properly documenting payments and spending money on things that didn’t serve an allowable public purpose, including alcohol and Christmas cards. The rest of the money Howard owes stems from earlier years, auditors said.

“With budgets being pinched so tightly across the board, in school districts especially, every dollar does count,” Harmon said. “So any dollar that’s lost is something that is unfortunate for school districts or any form of government.”

Howard told WYMT-TV (https://bit.ly/29xitkf ) that he committed no wrongdoing and, to his knowledge, his financial records were clean when he was sheriff.

Howard left office at the end of 2014 after serving two terms.

School Superintendent Anthony Little told the Lexington Herald-Leader (https://bit.ly/29ovAm3 ) he planned to talk to school board members and the county attorney about the findings,

“We could certainly use our part,” Little said.

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