Friday, July 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Controller Questions Financial Management At Sherriff's Office

Here's the release:

Controller Questions Financial Management At Sherriff's Office

Here's the release:

Butkovitz Calls for Forensic Audit of Sheriff’s Office to Review $53 Million in Funds
Controller Butkovitz says failure to provide financial documents after numerous requests
& significant “red flags” raises concerns for potential fraud and impropriety

PHILADELPHIA – In releasing the FY07-09 Sheriff’s Office audit today, City Controller Alan Butkovitz called for a forensic audit of the Department due to its failure to provide financial data and supporting documents for 11 custodial accounts with assets valued at $53 million.

Along with reviewing controls and functions of the Sheriff’s Office, the Controller’s auditors were going to sample three of the 11 custodian accounts. But after numerous requests, the Sheriff did not provide auditors with all of the bank statements, check registries, deposit documents and other financial information necessary to complete the audit.

“The Sheriff’s on-going refusal to cooperate and provide the requested financial materials raises concerns over the potential risk for fraud and other impropriety,” said Butkovitz. “At no time in recent memory has a city agency so blatantly refused to cooperate and provide our Office with financial information and data.”

According to Butkovitz, there were other significant red flags in addition to the Sheriff’s failure to comply with requests for custodial accounts documentation. Some of these include the following: large sum deposit errors, $10,000 missing from the petty cash fund, no check registers, missing bank reconciliations and missing statements.

“Because of the refusal to provide documents and the significant red flags, I am moving aggressively to conduct a full-scale forensic audit of the Sheriff’s Department and all 11 custodial accounts,” said Butkovitz. “We will use the Courts, if necessary, to force their cooperation with our Office.”

In addition to the custodial accounts, the Controller’s auditors also reviewed the Sheriff’s payroll procedures and found that the Department’s 17 exempt employees were not required to document the time they worked and they were not required to document their sick or vacation time.

As a result of the no timesheet policy, 10 of the 17 exempt employees were not charged any sick or vacation time in 2009. In 2008, all 17 exempt employees reported no sick or vacation time, and in 2007 11 employees were not charged any sick or vacation time.

“Without official timesheets there is no record of their work attendance ever existing,” said Butkovitz. “These exempt employees have accrued vacation and sick time balances of which will be used to calculate their termination pay.”

According to Butkovitz, three of the employees were never charged for any sick or vacation time for five years, amounting to 1,250 working days, per employee without taking a single day off for sick or vacation.

“It’s troubling to note that during the course of our audit, we received e-mails from certain exempt employees informing us that they were out sick or on vacation,” said Butkovitz. “When we checked payroll records for the days these employees said there were out, we found they had not been charged for any time.”

“Other independently elected offices, including my own and the District Attorney’s Office, keep time records and vacation and sick leave records,” said Butkovitz.

“All Sheriff’s Office employees are put on notice that I will not approve any payment for any unused sick or vacation time to any employee, who leaves the city service, who does not have sufficient timesheet records to document the accuracy and validity of the unused sick and vacation time reimbursement request.”

Other findings from the audit include the following:
-a sample of 26 financial disclosure forms from FY2008 and FY2007 found that nine employees failed to file their financial disclosure forms in FY2008 and 21 failed to file in FY2007.
-testing of sick-leave revealed six non-exempt employees in the payroll system with five or more undocumented sick days in calendar 2008 and 33 employees in 2007 without any warning letters or anyone being placed on an Excessive Sick Leave list.

To view a copy of the FY07-09 Office of the Sheriff Audit, please visit the City Controller’s website at www.philadelphiacontroller.org

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About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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