Friday, October 31, 2014

Sheriff: Office fixes paperwork snafu, set to receive nearly-lost $35K

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 7/23/2014

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is back in compliance with federal rules, Jeff Richards said.

Unfiled reports under the previous administration at the sheriff’s office nearly cost the department $35,000, Richards, Franklin County sheriff, said, but his staff was able to identify and fix the problem. The agency worked with the U.S. Justice Department to return to compliance on the federal equitable sharing program, he said.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is back in compliance with federal rules, Jeff Richards said.

Unfiled reports under the previous administration at the sheriff’s office nearly cost the department $35,000, Richards, Franklin County sheriff, said, but his staff was able to identify and fix the problem. The agency worked with the U.S. Justice Department to return to compliance on the federal equitable sharing program, he said.

The sheriff’s office now will be able to claim the $35,000 it was awarded from a federal investigation that resulted in a $350,000 seizure, Richards said.

“We have all of our reports filed that we needed to get done and they have accepted them all,” he said. “We’ve contacted the agency we were working with as far as to have those funds distributed to us. We don’t have an exact date, but I don’t expect it to take too long.”

Though the sheriff’s office had been working with the federal agency to fix the filing problem, word the reports had been accepted apparently was delayed by a personnel change at the Justice Department.

“The lady we had been working with out in [Washington D.C.] no longer works with the Department of Justice and her replacement came in and we are now in compliance,” Richards said. “I don’t know if there was a connection there or not, but we have a new contact and were are now back in compliance.”

During county budget discussions in early June, Richards told commissioners the sheriff’s office was awarded 10 percent of a $350,000 seizure as part of a federal investigation. The department helped with the investigation, but had yet to be awarded the 10 percent because the county was removed from a federal equitable sharing program, Richards said.

The department lost out on the program about two years ago, before he was appointed sheriff, Richards said in June, because the sheriff’s office had stopped filling out the proper paperwork.

“You have to be a part of the program. We used to be part of the program but, for some reason, the sheriff’s office didn’t file reports any more and was going to stop participating in the program,” Richards said. “That didn’t happen with me. Since we’ve found out about it, we’re getting the reports done so we can get back current to be eligible to receive the money through equitable sharing.”

The reports that went unfiled the past two years are intended to provide proof to the sharing program that the money will and has been spent for its intended purpose, Richards said in June.

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