Green postpones retirement as Philadelphia sheriff to deal with audit

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Sheriff John D. Green, whose office is under pressure from City Controller Alan Butkovitz, announces he won't retire Sunday.

Philadelphia Sheriff John D. Green, scheduled to leave office at the end of the month, Wednesday postponed his retirement to work with City Controller Alan Butkovitz on a full-scale audit of his office and remove the "cloud" resulting from a blistering report from the Controller's Office.

Green, who was scheduled to retire Sunday after 24 years as the elected sheriff, called an afternoon news conference to announce that he would stay on for the three to five months an in-depth audit would take.

Butkovitz on Tuesday called for the forensic audit of the Sheriff's Office - the first in recent memory - saying that Green had failed to provide information on its $53 million in accounts, leaving the office open to fraud and abuse.

"The sooner this whole issue is put to bed, the sooner I can go on with my life," Green said.

"I'm encouraged that the sheriff recognizes the need for a forensic audit, and I expect his full cooperation, as he indicated," Butkovitz responded in an interview. But he added: "We're not going to go through what we already went through. We're not going to ask for the same records 11 or 12 times."

The full-scale examination of the sheriff's finances - the Controller's Office has criticized Green for lax bookkeeping and disregard for procurement processes for two decades - will cost between $200,000 and $500,000, Butkovitz has estimated.

Butkovitz sent Green a letter Wednesday detailing the "red flags" his office had found, and asked "that you direct your staff immediately to not tamper with, destroy, or otherwise discard any records or other documents or evidence" connected with the 11 bank accounts Butkovitz is seeking.

Green said Wednesday that there was some dispute about what had transpired when the Controller's Office sought records in 2009, but that he believed his office had provided and was willing to provide what had been requested.

Green said he did not want to leave office with a "cloud" hanging over his tenure.

Under the city's Deferred Retirement Option Plan, Green has a retirement deadline of May 20, when he would be entitled to a lump sum of just under $400,000, according to information previously released by the Board of Pensions and Retirement.

Other elected officials have skirted DROP's mandate that they retire from city employment by winning reelection and retiring for one day just before their new term. While Green could seek reelection in the May primary and November general election, he could not start a new term until January 2012.


Contact staff writer Jeff Shields at 215-854-4565 or jshields@phillynews.com.