Approximately $96,000 accepted by the Washington County Clerk of Courts office was never deposited in a bank last year, according to an annual audit conducted by Washington County Controller Michael Namie.
State police are now investigating the matter at the request of the board of commissioners, said Chairman Larry Maggi, a former state trooper.
“There were 24 deposits that didn’t hit the bank,” Namie said in summing up his 15-page report.
In a hastily called press conference in Maggi’s office before the commissioners’ regularly scheduled agenda-setting meeting, the commissioner read a statement that said, in part, “As an independently elected office, the clerk of courts establishes its own policies and procedures as to how it accounts for the funds coming under its control.”
Vice Chairman Diana Irey Vaughan, Commissioner Harlan Shober and county Finance Director Joshua Hatfield were also present.
Maggi noted the board asked state police for a “full and complete criminal investigation of the matter.” A member of Troop B, based near Eighty Four, took the report within the past week.
Clerk of Courts Frank Scandale was not in his office Wednesday, but in a reply to an email inquiry he wrote, “I try to run the office like an efficient business and sometimes best practices must be revised and revisited; however, I categorically deny that any wrongdoing was committed in this matter.
“I welcome any investigation that may take place and I intend to fully cooperate with the same.
“At this time I have no further comment due to the investigation.”
Namie, who is recovering from a broken foot, said the clerk of courts office handled just over $4.2 million last year.
“Because of the inherent limitations in any system of internal accounting and administrative controls, errors or irregularities may nevertheless occur and not be detected,” Namie wrote in the audit report.
The controller said his 2017 audit of clerk of courts raised a red flag because there was “a failure to make deposits in a timely manner. (That year,) the money was eventually placed into the account.”
Clerk of courts is a filing office for criminal charges and case information forwarded from magisterial district judges to the Common Pleas Court level, plus a repository for a miscellaneous docket.
It handles bail, court costs, fines, restitution, and a host of fees ranging from electronic home monitoring, the booking center and transcripts to substance abuse education.
Scandale, of Canonsburg, an insurance broker, was elected to the row office in 2015. He was the sole Democrat to file as a candidate for clerk of courts earlier this year. Former Washington Mayor Brenda Davis, now a Republican, is running against him in the Nov. 5 general election.