The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 9, 2013

Computer glitch suspected in missing inmate funds

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

LEWISBURG — SUNBURY — Money collected from inmates at the Northumberland County Prison may be missing, according to an audit conducted by county Controller Tony Phillips.

During Wednesday’s prison board meeting, Phillips told his colleagues that the inconsistency may reflect a computer problem and that he is working with a software company to determine what, if anything, went wrong.

But as of now, he said, the books don’t match.

Warden Roy Johnson said he is aware of the problem and that he too has contacted the software company.

When prisoners are committed to the jail, any money they have on them is confiscated and put into a bank account, Phillips said.

Prison officials then enter that amount into the prison computer system and deliver the money to the treasurer’s office, which places it in a bank account and makes a report to the controller’s office.

The numbers were not adding up, but Phillips said that doesn’t mean anyone is stealing.

“This hasn’t been looked at for more than 15 years,” he said. “The first time we took a snapshot of this, it actually showed that there was $3,000 too much money. Now the more we look we can see that if we paid everything out, we would be short.”

Phillips has been working with the warden and the software company to see how the problem can be fixed.

“We never had this imbalance with the county,” Phillips said. “We are now working to make sure that every month we are able to tie these together and make sure it all adds up.”

Stealing isn’t out of the question, Phillips said, but he is more suspect of the software.

“We are dealing with a 15-year-old problem,” Phillips said. “There may be more training involved in operating the system, but we are working on fixing this problem.”

Commissioners Steve Bridy and Vinny Clausi applauded Phillips for finding the errors.

“I want to thank Mr. Phillips for continuing to do a good job for this county,” Clausi said. “Any time there is an issue, he is always the first person right there to help solve the problem.”

Bridy agreed and said he is happy the prison and county are working together to solve the issue.