Police records room fraud cost Pittsburgh thousands
Lax supervision and shoddy financial controls in the Pittsburgh police records room could cost the city as much as $31,721, the city controller said in an audit released Thursday.
A part-time records room cashier took $17,140 in cash between Oct. 11, 2011 and Nov. 15, Controller Michael Lamb said. The city also stands to lose $14,581 in outdated checks the cashier failed to deposit because banks are unlikely to accept them now, Lamb said.
The cashier resigned in November after she admitted the theft. Police implemented tighter controls — some of which the audit now recommends — that include no longer accepting cash and ensuring that the person preparing deposit slips is not the same person taking them to the bank.
“There was an opportunity there to commit this fraud,” Lamb said. “That opportunity should not have been there.”
Police spokeswoman Diane Richard declined comment, citing a criminal investigation. Police and city officials have not identified the cashier.
Lamb, a Democratic candidate for mayor who as controller serves as the city's fiscal watchdog, said the police bureau's problems are not unique.
“This is something we know is a problem citywide,” he said.
Joanna Doven, spokeswoman for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, said police asked Lamb to conduct the audit and provide recommendations.
“The mayor looks forward to reviewing these recommendations and seeing them implemented,” she said.
The biggest problem was that duties in the records room were not property segregated, Lamb said.
The city charges a fee for providing police reports. The cashier collects money, prepares revenue records and deposit slips, and takes money collected to the bank. No one double-checked to ensure that daily receipts matched daily bank deposits, the audit said.
Lamb said auditors found 3,714 checks that were not deposited, and speculated that the cashier was substituting them for cash she later received so amounts deposited matched amounts received.
“The person who is preparing the deposit slips should not be the person making the cash run,” he said. “Segregating those duties eliminates the possibility of committing fraud.”
Auditors found that two cashiers in the records room use a register that is not automated; deposits from the records room are not reconciled to the city accounting system; cashiers are not bonded; and voided transactions are not adequately documented or reviewed.
Police made a change, later recommended in the audit, to require people seeking copies of records to pay by check or money order. They also plan to begin reconciling accounts.
Lamb said they're still using an outdated cash register that cannot produce a daily record of receipts. He recommended that all city departments permit credit card payments.
“The key is that employees need to know that someone's looking,” he said.
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Chesney fans flood the North Shore to party
- ‘Target Tokyo’ brings WWII tale back to life
- Steelers nose tackle McCullers finds performance, fitness go hand in hand
- Butler County’s drug court provides another chance to change
- Review: Ghosts emerge in Vivian Gornick’s memoir ‘The Odd Woman and the City’
- Construction worker dies in Wilkinsburg
- Pittsburgh roots shape former Md. governor’s outlook in run for president
- Butler volleyball team has short playoff run
- Laurel Highlands teachers schooled in self-defense
- Summer guest becomes perfect Seneca Valley prom date
- Ladies G.A.R. chapter marking Civil War anniversary in Monongahela