Worcester Telegram Editorial: Minding money
February 18, 2013 - This following content was originally published by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette
A report released Friday by State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump highlights the need for Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.’s office to be more transparent in how seized drug money is spent, and to keep better accounts.
The audit was right to avoid any judgment on whether Mr. Early’s use of the money to promote youth sports was a proper law enforcement function.
On April 29, 2012, the Telegram & Gazette reported on Mr. Early’s support for youth sports programs, equipment and repairs, as well as payments to local contractors who were among his political donors.
While the appropriateness of those expenditures remains a matter of some debate, Mr. Early is right in maintaining that his office should enjoy some discretion in the use of seized funds. Promoting sports among youth appears to have some effect in reducing crime.
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Auditor Calls for Improvements at Worcester and Bristol County DA Offices
February 15, 2013
State Auditor Suzanne Bump today released audits of the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office (WCDA) and the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office (BCDA) with recommendations for tightened procedures and transparency in how each agency tracks and spends confiscated and forfeited funds.
Under state law, after a defendant is found guilty and seized property related to the case is forfeited to the Commonwealth by court order, district attorneys’ offices are allowed to split the funds with local police departments and use the money to supplement their own operations or for other law enforcement purposes.
Today’s reports detail inadequacies in the records intended to demonstrate that the funds are being used properly. Specifically, both audits contain findings related to the awarding of grants and donations to non-profits and community organizations. While these expenditures are permissible, there should be established criteria and documentation required to ensure transparency and accountability. The audits point to procedures used by other district attorneys as examples to be considered.
Press Release: Auditor Calls for Improvements at Worcester and Bristol County DA Offices
Audit: Bristol County District Attorney’s Office
Audit: Worcester County District Attorney’s Office (Middle District)