A Florida auditing firm will pay $500,000 to avoid a lawsuit with officials in Nassau County, located in the northeast corner of the state.

According to the Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Farmand, Farmand & Farmand PA has entered into a settlement agreement over audits it performed of the county’s finances.

After a newly-elected official uncovered financial irregularities in early 2005, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement discovered that the former Clerk of Courts supervisor had embezzled more than $1 million over the course of the previous decade. The money was taken from a special account that pooled dollars from traffic fines, court registration fees and other revenue -- about two-thirds of that money was tabbed for distribution to the state and Nassau County's local governments.

The county has already made changes to its office practices, as well as hiring an internal auditor for the department.

Audits conducted by Farmand, Farmand & Farmand did not catch the thefts, though the firm will not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

In a prepared statement, the newspaper said that partner Anwar Farmand said that taking the matter to court would not be good for either the firm, or the county, and that the firm would settle on the advice of its insurance carrier and lawyers.

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