State Auditors Uncover Misconduct By Former Perrysburg
Former Perrysburg Town Justice Tina M. Armstrong pled guilty today
in Cattaraugus County Court to official misconduct stemming from the
theft of court funds and was sentenced to three years probation. Armstrong’s
actions were discovered following a State
audit requested by the Perrysburg Town
“Armstrong’s actions represent a deplorable violation of
the public’s trust, and she must be held accountable for her actions,” said
State Comptroller Alan Hevesi. “I commend the District Attorney
for addressing this matter quickly and strongly encourage the Town Board
to take aggressive action to ensure that this does not happen again.”
Town justices are responsible for managing the operations of their
office, including imposing and collecting fines and bail money. When
auditors analyzed Armstrong’s financial records, they found that
her account was short by more than $5,000 and that certain court-imposed
fines were not properly accounted for and remitted to the appropriate
Auditors also discovered that Armstrong’s financial records were
incomplete, and that she had not reconciled bank statements with other
records as required. When auditors questioned Armstrong about the missing
funds, she made inconsistent statements and claimed to have lost some
of the money in a car accident.
Many of the monthly reports that town justices are legally required
to file were submitted by Armstrong up to three months late, according
to auditors. Auditors found that the financial improprieties occurred
because the town did not have a sufficient internal control system.
The audit findings were referred to the Cattaraugus County District
Attorney’s Office. On March 31, 2004, Armstrong resigned her
position as town justice.
As part of the plea agreement, Armstrong pled guilty to official
misconduct, a Class A Misdemeanor, and agreed to pay restitution
in the amount of $5,147. Restitution was determined by a follow up
review of court financial records by state auditors.
In a written response to the audit, included in the final document,
town board members said they are instituting new internal control
and record-keeping systems, installing new software to submit required
reports, and requiring monthly bank statements from all town justices.
This is the second official in Cattaraugus County found to have misused
official funds and to have resigned following the results of an audit
by the Office of the State Comptroller. In a report released in January
2004, auditors disclosed that former Dayton Town Justice Barbara
Elsholz diverted $4,700 in courts funds for personal use. Elsholz
then resigned from her position, and the audit findings were referred
to the Cattaraugus County District Attorney’s Office.
Click Here for a Copy of the Report.
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