A state audit of the Somers Justice Court found weaknesses in internal controls, a lack of oversight of the court’s operations by the justices and the town board, and a lack of timeliness on some occasions in making deposits and monthly reports.
Auditors for state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s examined the court’s internal controls for the period Jan. 1, 2012 through March 31, 2013. Somers Justice Court, which has two justices and two court clerks, collected about $317,000 in fines during that time for adjudicated cases, parking violations and forfeitures.
The comptroller said the court clerks performed all the key aspects of the court’s accounting function with limited oversight. The audit found that of 304 receipts totaling $7,085 between December 2012 and February 2013, 54 were held for four to six days. Justices are aware of the 72-hour requirement, but neither one provided sufficient oversight to make sure the clerks complied, it said.
DiNapoli recommended that the court clerks deposit money into an official bank account within 72 hours of receiving it, as required by law.
The audit said 14 of the 30 monthly reports that were due to the Justice Court Fund in DiNapoli’s office were between one and five days late. The court clerks told auditors the justices work part time and are not always available to review and sign their reports when due. DiNapoli said the reports should submit monthly reports to the Justice Court Fund no later than the 10th day of the succeeding month.
Both court clerks perform several key aspects of the court’s accounting with limited oversight, and the town board and Somers Justice Court haven’t established adequate policies or procedures for monitoring them and ensuring an “adequate segregation of cash custody and record-keeping duties,” or implement other controls, the audit said. Auditors tested 102 transactions totaling $13,902 and didn’t find any discrepancies.
“Because of these weaknesses, the (town) Board and the Justices have limited assurance that all moneys collected are accounted for, and there is an increased risk that Court funds could be misappropriated without detection or correction,” the audit said.
Justices Denis Timone and Michael McDermott said in a letter responding to the audit that they would comply with the recommendations. They have taken steps to ensure a more complete review of cash deposits and record-keeping practices. The justices and the town board have put additional steps into place to ensure more oversight of financial transactions, Timone and McDermott said.