For Immediate Release - January 31, 2014

Auditor Bump Issues Transition Report of Hampden Superior Court

BOSTON, MA — State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released an audit of the Hampden Superior Court’s Clerk’s Office which identified unaccounted for bail funds and incomplete records of property and evidence materials. The audit was initiated at the request of the newly elected Clerk of Courts, Laura Gentile, to enhance the transition from the prior administration.

“Possessing a complete analysis of your office at the onset of your administration is an invaluable asset for strategic planning,” said auditor Bump. “I applaud Clerk Gentile for her willingness to identify and address problems head on.”

During the period of review, auditors found repeat occurrences where an assistant clerk authorized to take bail funds for cases after normal court hours failed to transmit all money to the court within the timeframe allowed. Auditors also identified an outstanding bail shortage of $5,000. After completion of audit work the missing bail funds were turned in to the Clerk’s Office, 309 days after its original collection. The report determines that the office cannot be certain that all of the bails collected by the assistant clerk have been accounted for.

Clerk Gentile was alerted to the problem while the audit was still ongoing and has reported that the assistant clerk in question was put on administrative leave and that the matter was referred to the Attorney General for investigation.

Other findings included:

  • The Clerk’s office did not maintain an accurate centralized evidence log that always identified the location and detailed description of evidence such as including amounts and quantities of cash, weapons, and controlled substances.
  • The office was not maintaining accurate inventory records of its furniture and equipment, creating greater risk of loss or misuse. Assets in the court’s possession have an estimated value of $731,107.
  • The Clerk’s office was not consistently or accurately completing monthly bank account reconciliations Also, reconciliations were not completed by the appropriate person or approved by the appropriate court officials.

Auditor Bump has called on the Clerk’s office to amend its processes for accepting bail funds after normal court hours and to bring all accounting procedures up to compliant standards.

The Office of the State Auditor conducts technical and performance assessments of state government’s programs, departments, agencies, authorities, contracts, and vendors. With its reports, the OSA issues recommendations to improve accountability, efficiency, and transparency.