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August 26, 2010

DiNapoli: Town of Turin Board Members Filed
False Documentation with the Unified Court System

Comptroller DiNapoli Identifies $37,000 Cash Shortage

Two board members in the Town of Turin filed documentation with the Unified Court System falsely certifying that they had conducted a 2008 annual audit of the justice court’s financial operations, according to an audit released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The audit covered the period January 1, 2008 to October 27, 2009.

“The town justices are personally responsible for all moneys received by their court,” DiNapoli said. “And the town board is supposed to watch over the courts financial activity. This didn’t happen in Turin. Falsifying documents is beyond unacceptable. Taxpayers have a right to honest reporting and better financial management.”

DiNapoli’s audit noted that the board failed to provide adequate oversight of the court’s financial activity.  Furthermore, internal control weaknesses resulted in the court’s known liabilities exceeding its available cash assets for a cash shortage of at least $37,199 as of October 27, 2009.  The audit findings were referred to the Lewis County District Attorney.

DiNapoli’s audit also found that the justice did not ensure that the recordkeeping of the court was adequate. The court also failed to issue duplicate, pre-numbered receipts for all payments received, did not record all payments and money received accurately and timely, did not maintain a bail list or deposit composition records and did not submit accurate monthly reports to the State Comptroller’s Justice Court Fund.

DiNapoli recommended town officials, the justice and the board:

  • Take action to recover any moneys that are due to the town and/or New York State;
  • Perform accountability reconciliations monthly, and investigate and resolve irregularities;
  • Maintain adequate books and records, including issuing acceptable receipts for all moneys received; and
  • Ensure that reports to the Justice Court Fund represent an accurate and complete record of the court’s monthly activity.

Town officials generally agreed with DiNapoli’s recommendations, and indicated they would take corrective action.

DiNapoli recently issued a report highlighting the more than 51 fraud and abuse cases totaling approximately $10 million that have been uncovered in local governments and school districts across New York since 2007.  The report also includes a list of “Red Flags for Fraud” – that is, a set of circumstances that is unusual in nature, or varies from the normal activity – that DiNapoli recommends local officials be aware of.

Click here for a copy of the Town of Turin Justice Court audit.

Click here to view the fraud report.


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