State Auditor finds financial irregularities in Sheriff Hodgson’s Office
On February 13, 2019 the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) published the results of a performance audit of the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO). In four separate findings, the OSA noted financial irregularities, most with the handling of ICE-related matters. Readers can find the full Auditor’s report at bit.ly/bcso-audit.
It was not the first time the OSA found fault with Hodgson’s performance and management. In 2010 the OSA found Hodgson had failed to properly account for $1.5 million of inventory, prompting a public rebuke from then-Auditor Joseph DeNucci.
The present OSA audit found the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office failed to transfer nearly $350,000 in reimbursements from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the Office of the State Treasurer or account for them in the state’s accounting system.
“BCSO officials could not explain why the funds were not remitted to the Commonwealth in fiscal year 2016 when they were received,” the report found.
The OSA also faulted the sheriff for failing to renegotiate higher daily “bed” fees with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) since 2010. Hodgson reported a daily cost of $88.49 compared to the statewide average of $133.72. Hodgson’s lower fees may be costing state taxpayers millions of dollars.
The next audit finding goes to the heart of accountability. The Sheriff’s Office failed to prepare or submit to legislative committees an inmate total cost analysis reports for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, resulting in those entities not having all the information needed for policy and financial oversight.
Finally, the Bristol County Sheriff did not provide receipts for various credit card expenditures. Of the sample of credit card purchases examined by the Auditor, 36 percent were either undocumented or poorly documented.
“Without proper documentation, including itemized receipts, for all expenses, there is a higher-than acceptable risk that payments for improper expenses could occur,” the report said.
Considering the State Auditor’s significant findings, it is fair to say that the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office is operating out of compliance with the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth. This report, in conjunction with the active lawsuit regarding phone call charges and the federal criminal convictions of two former employees for money laundering, seems to cry out for state officials to appoint an independent investigator to conduct a thorough forensic audit of the Sheriff’s Office.
Eileen Marum, Marion; Sabrina Davis, Fall River; Betty Ussach-Schwartz, Dartmouth
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