Hoover Council President John Lyda discusses financial chaos and raises concerns about potential fraud

City of Hoover Under Fire for Withholding Public Records and Forensic Audit Investigation

The City of Hoover in Alabama is facing scrutiny after failing to produce public records requested by Alabama Today a month ago. The requested documents are related to a forensic audit on city finances, as revealed in an email obtained exclusively by Alabama Today.

City Councilor John Lyda sent an email to the rest of the council on April 9, 2024, discussing a proposal from Kroll Investigative Analytics for a forensic audit. The audit, estimated to cost between $145k and $177k, was expected to take 60-90 days. However, it has been 92 days since the email was sent, and the city has not provided any updates on the progress of the audit.

The forensic audit is said to include an investigation into reports of documents protected by state document retention laws being intentionally deleted by a former city staffer. This has raised concerns about potential fraud or misconduct within the city.

City Councilwoman Khristi Driver publicly revealed the forensic audit during sworn testimony, stating that it was meant to ensure the city’s financials were in order. The last audit report for fiscal 2022 highlighted material weaknesses and significant deficiencies in the city’s internal controls.

Despite these concerns, Mayor Frank Brocato has not expressed alarm, and city officials have not addressed how the forensic audit is being funded or its impact on the annual audit from the city’s longtime auditor.

The delay in producing the requested public records and the lack of transparency surrounding the forensic audit have raised questions about the City of Hoover’s financial management and accountability. The situation is reminiscent of a recent case in the neighboring city of Homewood, where a city employee was arrested for misappropriating over six figures in city funds after an independent forensic investigation was conducted.

As the City of Hoover continues to withhold information and delay the release of public records, residents and officials alike are left wondering about the true state of the city’s finances and the potential implications of the forensic audit.