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NYS Comptroller


Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Town of Ellicott – Justice Court (2015M-111)

Released: November 13, 2015 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to examine the Court’s financial activity for the period January 1, 2011 through April 21, 2015.


The Town of Ellicott is located in Chautauqua County and has a population of approximately 8,700. The Town is governed by an elected five-member Town Board. The Court reported collecting approximately $953,000 in fines, fees and surcharges during our audit period.

Key Findings

  • The Justices did not segregate the duties of the full-time Court clerk, who controlled all phases of the Court’s cash collection, recording and reporting process with minimal oversight. As a result, the full-time Court clerk was able to manipulate Court records and admitted to embezzling funds.
  • Neither the Justices nor the Court clerks performed monthly accountabilities.
  • The Justices did not adequately reconcile pending-ticket reports from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles with current Court caseload activity, and the full-time Court clerk did not notify the DMV of unresolved tickets in a timely manner.
  • The Board did not consistently conduct, or retain anyone to conduct, the required annual audit of the Justices’ records.

Key Recommendations

  • Take action to recover any money due to the Town and New York State and segregate duties over receiving and recording cash to the extent possible; and/or provide additional oversight of the Court clerks as a compensating control.
  • Ensure that bank reconciliations and accountability analyses are prepared and verified on a monthly basis and investigate any variances.
  • Periodically review and reconcile the DMV pending-ticket log with the Court’s caseload activity to ensure that tickets are properly reported and paid to the JCF in a timely manner and ensure that the Court clerks update the DMV records of tickets that have been paid.
  • Perform, or hire an independent public accountant to perform, a thorough audit of the Court’s records on an annual basis. Evidence of an audit indicating the tests performed, the records reviewed and the results of the audit should be retained. Duplicate receipts should be compared with deposits, records and reports.

Local Government and School Accountability Contact Information:

Phone: (518) 474-4037; Email:
Address: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability
110 State Street, 12th Floor; Albany, NY 12236