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Essex County Sheriff’s Department receives comptroller recommendations

Essex County Sheriff Richard Cutting

Essex County Sheriff Richard Cutting Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— “We have to create some separation,” Cutting said. “We have been revising all of our procedures and have trained more people on how to balance the checkbook.”

Palmer and Cutting said that they are also making sure that monies collected would be deposited into accounts daily.

“When we took in money, we had a safe where it would be kept until we went to make a deposit,” Cutting said. “They want us to make deposits every single day. There was no missing money or bails that had not come in, we just need to be more timely with our deposits.”

In the end, the Comptroller’s Office made nine recommendations, including: the Sheriff and department officials should ensure that cash receipts are maintained and disbursements are made in accordance with the money-handling policy; officials should segregate cash receipts and disbursement duties; that duplicate, press-numbered receipts are issued in sequence for all bail payments that are received at the jail and all civil office payments that are received in person at the civil office; ensure that bail and civil office cash receipts that are collected are physically safeguarded; the Sheriff should maintain control of his signature stamp; assign someone independent of the cash receipts and disbursement functions to perform accurate and timely monthly bank reconciliations; maintain a cash control register containing a list of deposits and disbursements and a running total of cash on deposit; attempt to identify the source of an unidentified balance in the civil office bank account; and ensure that the computerized financial system is updated to prevent the modification and deletion of financial transactions and to provide for adequate audit trail reports.

In his written response to the Comptroller, Palmer said that they would work with their resources on the recommendations.

“The numerous and varied situations whereby our personnel handle money along with the limited number of people in certain offices often create situations where unique protocols must be created to ensure both an complete audit trail and accurate handling of these funds,” he stated. “The review reflected the result that all monies handled: bail, fine, civil collections, service fees, inmate monies, and so on were all appropriately held and turned over to their rightful end status. Despite this, we do have some procedural issues that your audit uncovered and we have developed a plan to address these issues.”

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