An audit by the New York State Comptroller’s Office found that some victims of crime in Chenango County had not been compensated by probationers.
The auditors found that officials did not adequately enforce the recovery of restitution and that officials made payments, but did not follow up with the victim if the check was not cashed on time. officials did not distribute undisbursed compensation and officials did not maintain sufficient undisbursed restitution records.
According to the audit, the probation service had 101 restitution cases during the audit period from January 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.
Of the 101 cases, auditors reviewed 20 cases totaling $ 110,172.
“Ministry officials should have collected $ 33,471 from probationers for the 18 cases with required payment terms, including $ 9,715 in arrears from the previous period,” the audit said. The auditors found that only $ 23,979 was collected during this period.
The audit also looked to see if the victims had received and cashed their checks. The report found “30 overdue checks totaling $ 1,662 that were between one and over four years old.” The auditors “found no documents indicating that letters had been sent or that other efforts had been made to locate the victims, and no new checks were issued,” according to the report.
Auditors found that the department “potentially had $ 2,690 in undisbursed restitution funds that should be used for unfulfilled restitution orders.”
The audit recommended that the director of probation do the following:
• Develop adequate written policies and procedures for the enforcement and payment of restitution;
• Contact the New York State Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives for guidance when orders do not have defined payment terms;
• Enforce and monitor restitution cases in accordance with court orders.
• Make reasonable efforts to locate victims, document actions and results, make payments to victims who can be located, and identify unclaimed money as undisbursed restitution, if applicable.
• Make payments from undisbursed restitution funds to victims of crime whose restitution orders have remained unfulfilled for the longest period of time.
• Provide meaningful oversight to ensure the program is operating effectively, which should include actions such as critical reviews of bank reconciliations and unfulfilled restitution order records.
• Ensure that the undisbursed restitution balance is supported by records showing the amount and dates of payments that make up the balance, including whether payments are made from the account.
In response to the audit, Director of Probation Kristin M. Snow said in a letter that the ministry is completing a corrective action plan and listed several initiatives that were taken prior to completing the action plan. corrective. Snow said the department has implemented the following measures:
• The ministry revised its policy on financial obligations in May 2019. The policy includes “guidelines for staff members and should provide more continuity going forward”.
• Forms and checklists have been changed.
• A second probation supervisor was hired in 2020 to help with the workload.
• Trainings on financial matters were organized in 2019 and 2020 for staff.
• The ministry has contracted with its software company to provide a hosting service for the ministry.