Oakdale City Council is holding a special meeting to consider the audit report

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – A nearly $1 million theft scandal is the main topic at a special council meeting held in Oakdale Monday night. We told you the former town clerk was accused of taking the money shortly before she died, but for some that’s not the end of the case.

“So who’s looking at the budgets to make sure they’re not over budget,” said one resident. “If they were constantly being questioned, why wasn’t it nobody – that was suspicious.”

The meeting lasted for hours as residents asked questions about how the stolen nearly $1 million would be recovered and why a city official was in charge of all finances.

“You’re the mayor,” said another resident. “At the end of the day, you are responsible for everyone’s tax dollars.”

Officials said Melissa Schaefer manipulated electronic devices — called tokens — to withdraw money from the city’s bank account. In an interview, Mayor Gene Paul said he did not know the whereabouts of the devices at the time and Schaefer gave the second device to another council member, telling him it was just a backup.

“She would keep it in a safe,” Paul said. “As a part-time councilman, he didn’t know any better.”

Paul said Schaefer also used both devices to tamper with their outdated computer software, which had not raised any concerns in previous audits.

“She presented it to him as she wanted and that’s how it went, but he never, not once, ever suspected any misuse of the funds,” Paul said. “I asked several times every year, every year, that was my concern.”

The city has filed a civil suit with Schaefer’s family. Paul also said the city is working to replace the city’s software so something like this doesn’t happen again.”

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