WJTV News Channel 12 - Audit finds nearly $400,000 in unidentified Carter County fund

Audit finds nearly $400,000 in unidentified Carter County fund

Auditors say over the last several years a growing amount of money has sat in the Carter County Circuit Court Clerk's account.

As part of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury's most recent audit of Carter County, the state found nearly $400,000 in a fund labeled as unidentified.

Despite the thousands of cases that go through circuit and general sessions courts in Carter County, auditors say employees never linked this money with specific cases, which may be costing victims and taxpayers alike.

Auditors didn't mince words when they finished this latest audit. They determined this problem was the result of "numerous errors, management's general lack of oversight, and weaknesses in the software controls."

Auditors say some of the money in question, judges may have designated to be paid to victims for restitution but the clerk's office may have never paid out that money.

At the same time, they say some of the funds could also belong to the county and state to cover filing fees and fines.

Bottom line, the circuit court clerk's office collected all of this money over the years but never sent it where it was supposed to go, auditors found.

"It could be restitution money, it could if you file a case, it could be for some of the court fees, maybe some state fine money in there," Audit Review Manager Greg Worley said. "It could go out to various individuals, whether it be state, local or individuals in the case of restitution. Laws determine how money should be paid out so the money is properly tracked. You should have an adequate accounting of all of your funds."

Worley says this isn't an easy problem to fix.

"There are thousands of cases," he said. "They are going to have to go one-by-one and see where the money belongs. It would require a lot of time to be able to perform that activity."

John Paul Mathes' office isn't saying much about the audit findings. However, his staff faxed a statement in response to our inquiry.

"As the 2012 Audit Report states, the funds in question are classified as 'unidentified,'" the statement said. "There are no allegations of missing funds. We are diligently utilizing every resource available including outside resources to correct these findings in a timely manner."

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