ATLANTA GA July 19 2012 - Atlanta’s police chief says he has nothing to hide in the way his department is handling two cash accounts totaling millions of dollars.
FOX 5 was first to report the findings of an independent audit that says there’s not enough oversight over these two accounts.
City Auditor Leslie Ward found two accounts controlled by the Atlanta Police Department. The larger one is a prisoner and evidence account that totals $2.9 million. The second account is unclaimed cash. According to the finance ledger at Atlanta City Hall, that account is supposed to amount to $9,492. However, the auditor found $1.3 million in the account at Wells Fargo Bank.
The city auditor said that the way the accounts are being handled raises the possibility for mismanagement or even theft.
William Perry of the watchdog organization Common Cause Georgia is urging transparency.
“It just sends shockwaves, quite frankly, that a government agency, be it police or whatever, would hide funds from another city agency,” said Perry.
Atlanta Police Chief George Turner said there is a legitimate reason why his department – and not city chief financial officer Jim Beard’s finance department– has control of the funds.
He said that cash from people arrested does not go into the general fund. He said it takes a process before unclaimed money is transferred into the general fund.
Turner explained the discrepancy between the amount of unclaimed money listed and the amount in the actual account by saying that there is a lengthy time for court cases involving the money to be resolved.
Ward said that she believes the city’s finance department should be in control of all funds.Turner said he would discuss the matter with Ward.