Audit reveals check issues

Published 9:27 am Wednesday, December 31, 2008

By By Kerry-Whipple Bean
A state auditor’s report on the Escambia County district attorney’s office turned up problems in the worthless check unit, the report states.
Former worthless check unit coordinator Monica Watson repaid $10,259.27 after the audit was done, according to the report, because of various problems including payments being misapplied and money orders being deposited into a personal bank account. District Attorney Steve Billy said the audit will be presented to a grand jury, but he will not present the information. No criminal charges have been filed against Watson.
According to the audit, Watson first refused to repay receipts charged to her because of problems found in the audit, but after a hearing before the state chief examiner, she made a total payment for the charges.
Among the problems resulting in financial charges to Watson:
Applying payments to the correct cases would result in a shortage in the bank account. Watson repaid $3,348 because of these charges.
Watson was charged for $5,204.32 for these instances.
In other findings of the audit:
During a cash accounting in the audit, examiners found money orders scattered throughout the district attorney’s office — in a mail slot, under stacks of papers on Watson’s desk, in filing cabinets and in envelopes taped to Watson’s desk.
All of the money orders should have been properly receipted, the audit found.
Watson allegedly used Billy’s signature stamp on the motions stating that “the defendant has paid restitution and fees through the Worthless Check Unit and the case is due to be dismissed.”
Motions were filed in the circuit clerk’s office after being signed by a judge.
The audit found cases that had been dismissed with such motions, but no payments had been made to support the motions.
The worthless check unit in the district attorney’s office accounts for fees from service charges and restitution collected for processing worthless checks.
The audit of the district attorney’s office covered a period from Sept. 1, 2006 to May 31, 2008.

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