Richard Thompson / The New Orleans Advocate

NEW ORLEANS -- More than $98,000 worth of bus fares that should have been collected during a three-year period in St. Bernard Parish are missing, according to a new audit report that casts significant doubt on explanations offered by transit officials.

The report, released Monday by the state Legislative Auditor's Office, notes that three employees of the St. Bernard Urban Rapid Transit Department, all of whom had access to money or relevant transit records, refused to take polygraph tests in connection with the audit. All of them have denied wrongdoing, but all have either resigned or retired since the audit began.

The audit report says drivers collected $48,585 more in bus fares during the period from January 2011 to March 2014 than what ended up in the bank.

On top of that, it says, hundreds of the department's route sheets for the same period are missing, suggesting that another $43,557 was likely collected and never deposited.

Finally, the report says, another stack of documents turned up during the audit itself, adding up to $5,963 in bus fares collected but never deposited and bringing the overall tally of missing fares to $98,105.

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