The audit could trigger a criminal investigation.
The City Council is expected to submit the findings to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office this week for review.
According to the audit, former City Manager Ed Beasley and others working under his direction intentionally misled the City Council about the ballooning costs of the retirement program, which originally was intended to save money.
The audit was commissioned by the council in February and conducted by a Phoenix law firm and forensic accountants at a projected cost of $500,000.
During the six-month investigation, auditors secured 19 work stations, computers and electronic devices and scoured nearly 557,000 files and 74,200 pages of documents.
According to the audit, Beasley also paid two high-level executives beyond what was in the “best interest” of the city.
Beasley retained Alma Carmicle as executive director of human resources in 2011 with full pay and perks worth $140,000, including a car allowance, after she moved to Mississippi, where she negotiated union contracts by phone for 10 months, according to the audit.
He also allowed Assistant City Manager Art Lynch to cash out on the early-retirement program despite missing the deadline.