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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Press Releases

October 17, 2013, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

DiNapoli: Funds Missing in Town of Lebanon Justice Court

An audit by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli has revealed that more than $2,000 is missing in the Town of Lebanon justice court in Madison County. The audit was conducted at the request of town officials and upon initiation of the audit, the town justice immediately resigned his position.

“When public dollars go missing, it’s clear that the financial controls designed to protect taxpayer funds were not operating effectively,” said DiNapoli. “Town officials deserve credit for bringing their concerns about the justice court’s finances to my office. Moving forward, however, the town must keep a closer eye on the court’s operations.”

In reviewing court records from January 2011 through March 2013 DiNapoli’s auditors found the town justice failed to account for all moneys received, resulting in a $2,295 shortage in the justice’s account. A review of court bank deposits revealed the justice had not deposited all the cash collected and had a pattern of substituting cash with checks and money orders to cover for cash shortages.

The comptroller’s audit also revealed the town justice failed to:

  • Submit funds collected to the town supervisor in a timely manner;
  • Prepare monthly bank reconciliations and monthly reports to the state Justice Court Fund;
  • Maintain a proper perpetual bail listing, as required; and
  • Deposit money in the same amount and form as received.

The town operates the court with one justice and no court clerk. The court has jurisdiction over vehicle and traffic, criminal, and civil proceedings. The justice’s principal financial duties involve administering moneys received from fines, bail and surcharges. In March 2012, the town board audited 2011 records and identified numerous concerns. The board later noted a decline in the court’s 2012 revenues; specifically, no revenues were reported for May, June or July.

DiNapoli urged town officials to recover any moneys due to the town and the state. He also made a number of recommendations to improve oversight of the justice court. These include:

  • Perform accountability reconciliations monthly, and investigate and resolve any irregularities;
  • Deposit all funds in a timely manner as prescribed by law;
  • Maintain adequate books and records, including an acceptable numbering system for receipts, as well as adequate deposit composition records; and
  • Properly report ticket dispositions to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The town agreed with the audit findings. Their response is included in the final report, which can be viewed here: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/towns/2013/lebanon_jc.pdf

For access to state and local government spending and nearly 50,000 state contracts, visit http://www.openbooknewyork.com/. The easy-to-use website was created by Comptroller DiNapoli to promote openness in government and provide taxpayers with better access to the financial workings of government.


 



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