For Immediate Release - March 18, 2011

Auditor Bump Faults Falmouth Court for Not Collecting Full Probation Fees

Audits also cite dated book-keeping that doesn’t track revenues

BOSTON, MA (March 18, 2011) – In a report released today, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump found Falmouth District Court (FDC) did not follow state law in exempting some offenders from paying an increase in probation fees that resulted in $110,230 in uncollected revenue.

The Legislature doubled monthly probation fees beginning FY 2010, but the FDC imposed the new $50 a month fee only for new probationers, not for those who were already in the system as of July 1, 2009.

“Similar to a finding in our audit of the Orleans District Court released last month, the Falmouth Court made a decision not to follow the law,” said Auditor Bump. “This is revenue the courts can use to offset shortfalls in appropriations. With fewer taxpayer dollars to go around, the courts simply can’t afford to ignore the law and forego this source of revenue.”

Auditor Bump also highlighted the lack of a critical money management tool in Falmouth and in the findings of another district court audit in Dedham. Both courts do not use an accounts receivable system which allows more control in tracking court payments and outstanding balances as well as identifying unauthorized adjustments and protection against theft.

Previous audits have shown this to be a weakness at many district court locations. The Administrative Offices of the Trial Court have said that they are in the process of implementing a statewide system that would include an accounts receivable system for all courts. Auditor Bump said, “We will continue to monitor this issue to ensure that whatever system the courts develop does address our concerns in this area.”

Auditor Bump said Falmouth and Dedham district courts were also not allocating fee payments from offenders to the Victim Witness Fund first before other probation accounts which is required by law. Both courts have subsequently taken action to correct procedures for allocating probation fee payments.

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Audit Report: Falmouth District Court pdf format of Falmouth District Court