Philly Controller Looks for Fraud in Sherriff’s Office

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According to City Controller Alan Butkovitz, the Philadelphia Sherriff’s office is refusing to cooperate with providing audit information on three large cash accounts. The accounts in question contain as much as $39 million and are used to process delinquent taxes, mortgage foreclosures and tax liens, and are overseen by Sherriff John D. Green.

The audit report released today covered the period from 2007 through 2009, and examined 11 accounts maintained by the Sherriff’s office. Of those accounts, city auditors were only able to obtain approximately 20 percent of the items requested on the three accounts in question. Chief Deputy Sherriff Barbara Deely claims that the information was offered to the auditor’s staff in September 2009, but was refused when the auditors claimed that they had moved on after wrangling for information over a six-month period. According to Butkovitz, “at no time in recent memory has a city agency so blatantly refused to cooperate and provide the Controller’s Office with financial information and data during the course of an audit.”

In addition to the dispute over the financial records sought by the Controller’s Office, Butkovitz also criticized the Sherriff’s office for failing to keep proper records for sick and vacation days for the department’s nonunion “exempt” management staff, including Deeley. Last year, 10 or the 17 employees recorded no days off at all, and eight showed no time taken off for the last three years.

The Controller’s Office is seeking approval from City Council to conduct a forensic audit with an estimated cost of $200,000 to $500,000. Deely claims a new audit is a waste of taxpayers’ money and believes that the whole matter is driven by the Controller’s plan to run for Mayor in 2015, at the expense of the outgoing Sherriff.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

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