Essex County Sheriff’s Department receives comptroller recommendations

Essex County Sheriff Richard Cutting

Essex County Sheriff Richard Cutting Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— The Essex County Sheriff’s Department recently received several suggestions to help streamline financial processes from the New York State Comptroller’s Office.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released the results of a financial audit of the department last week, stating that there were several areas where separation of duties was required.

“It is not good to have some of the things that they found in the audit, but there was nothing in the report that was major,” Essex County Manager Dan Palmer said. “There are some things that we need to do differently and we will.”

The main issue reported by the comptroller was the need for more oversight with monies taken in by the department.

“We found the civil clerk performed virtually all financial duties without sufficient oversight or other mitigating controls,” the report states. We also found that bail and civil office cash receipts were not properly accounted for, secured, and deposited in a timely manner ... We also found that bank reconciliations were not prepared properly or timely ... Lastly, the Department’s computer system allowed for the ability to modify and delete financial transactions, creating the opportunity for the manipulation and concealment of transactions.”

The report continued to say that an effective system requires the separation of duties, “so that no single individual controls most or all phases of a transaction and so that the work of one individual is verified by that of another in the course of their regular duties.

“For example, the same person should not collect cash, record cash receipts, disburse checks, and prepare bank reconciliations,” the report continued. “When an optimal segregation of duties is not practical, it is important that Department officials implement other mitigating controls, such as increased supervisory oversight and reviews.”

Sheriff Richard Cutting said that he, along with Palmer and County Treasurer Michael Diskin, had already implemented changes to align the department with the comptroller.

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