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January 7, 2010



DiNapoli: More Than $2.2 Million in Restitution for Orange County Crime Victims at Risk

Orange County's Probation Department's delayed enforcement of delinquent restitution cases could cause crime victims to miss out on as much as $2,225,000 in restitution, according to an audit released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The audit also found that the county was missing out on $190,407 on surcharges attached to those restitution cases. The audit covered the period January 2008 to March 2009.

"Crime victims shouldn't be victimized a second time," DiNapoli said. "More than 1,400 cases are in arrears; that means there are more than 1,400 crime victims still waiting for restitution. Making matters worse, the county is missing out on $190,000 in surcharges at a time when local governments are scraping to get by. The good news is, the county has recognized the problem and plans to address it."

DiNapoli's auditors found that although the department sent warning letters to delinquent probationers, it did not always report delinquencies to the courts or district attorney's office. Reviewing a total of 40 active cases totaling $230,872, auditors found that 29 were in arrears. Of these 29 cases, 15 totaling $49,657, including $3,913 of surcharges, were not reported to the court or DA as required. Auditors project that these deficiencies could mean the county would not collect $190,400 in surcharges to help finance its operations and crime victims would not receive as much as $2,225,000 of restitution from the 1,411 cases in arrears.

Additionally, because department officials did not follow county law and procedures to collect DWI fees in arrears or approve waivers in a timely manner, the county did not collect as much as $131,700 in potential revenue during the audit period. For example, six of 10 DWI cases that were in arrears totaling $5,580, were not collected because the county did not forward these cases to collection agencies as required. If this error rate occurred in the population of 167 cases, as much as $93,000 in DWI fees may not have been collected.

DiNapoli recommended that the department:

  • Enforce the collection of restitution in arrears and refer cases to the courts and the DA as required;
  • Refer delinquent accounts for collection; and
  • Develop a policy that establishes a timeframe for waiver applications and approvals.

County officials generally agreed with DiNapoliís findings and indicated they would take corrective action. For a copy of the report, click here: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/counties/2010/orangeprobation.pdf.

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