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Audit finds financial irregularities at Old Westbury justice court

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli at Hofstra

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli at Hofstra University on May 9, 2017. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The village of Old Westbury’s justice court left itself vulnerable to financial risk last year with practices that resulted in “an increased risk of loss, theft or inappropriate use of money,” according to a recent audit by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

The audit flagged inconsistent bail money deposits, lack of accountability analyses of bank statements and $1,743 of unexplained cash overages between June 2015 and September 2016.

Old Westbury has an elected village justice and two appointed acting justices. The justices did not complete monthly bank reconciliations that match the court’s financial records against bank statement balances, the audit said.

This led to two of the three justices having cash overages that could not be explained, according to the audit. Bail receipts were also not deposited in a timely manner, making it more difficult to track bail money.

The audit made several recommendations, which village officials said have since been implemented.

Previously, bail funds were deposited into one justice’s account. The money will now be placed in a joint bail account within three days after an arrest.

Though the justices reported financial activities monthly, regular accountability checks will be handled by the court clerk. The village’s independent auditor will review all bank accounts and statements on a quarterly basis.

The village could not locate a source for the cash overage. The funds were moved to the village’s general fund account.

This was the first time the justice court has been audited by the comptroller’s office in more than a decade, said Village Administrator Brian Ridgway.

“The information was received positively,” Ridgway said of the audit report and recommendations. “We welcome suggestions by the comptroller’s office so we can have a better-running operation.”

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