Comptroller criticizes Saugerties Justice Court bookkeeping

dollar budgetThe state Comptroller’s office has criticized the town’s justice court for what amounts to sloppy bookkeeping. The justices responded to the audit in a letter by saying examiners displayed “a total lack of historical perspective” in reviewing the justices’ procedures.

The audit, which covered the period from Jan. 1, 2013 to Nov. 3, 2014, said the justices failed to reconcile bail bank account balances with bail activity reports, while failing to provide adequate bookkeeping oversight. The audit also said not all cash receipts had been deposited within the state-mandated 72-hour period​.​

​According to the audit, Justice Daniel Lamb’s court bank account for fines had an average of nearly $15,000 in unaccounted-for funds on a monthly basis. He also had an average of unaccounted-for bail fines of nearly $7,000.


​In addition, the audit found that the justice court has held nearly $6,000 in bail from 21 people that was more than six years old. ​​ In their response to the audit, justices Lamb and Claudia Andreassen wrote, “Local courts continue to be increasingly burdened with new technology (often incompatible), new rules and new paperwork. At the same time that money flows to the state and towns, but courts are increasingly subjected to budgetary restraints. There is only so much work that can be done.”

The justices also complained that, “Nowhere does the report emphasize the fact that there was no loss of funds and that the records examined were accurate.”

The audit made several recommendations:

  • Bank reconciliations and accountabilities need to be more quickly reconciled and any differences be investigated and resolved promptly.
  • An analysis needs to be made of all bank liabilities to ensure they represent an up-to-date list of bail funds.
  • A good faith effort be made to locate exonerated people who have not collected their bail money. Unclaimed money should be transferred to the town supervisor’s account.
  • Ensure that all funds be deposited with 72 hours.