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Audit questions Sheriff's Department purchases

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A new audit shows money from inmate telephone calls at the Erie County Holding Center and the Erie County Correctional Facility was used by the Sheriff's Department for patrol cars, office furniture and other items.

The new audit from County Comptroller David Shenk said the money was apparently spent outside of the regular county budget process and possibly shouldn't have been spent. 

Shenk said  there are no state laws controlling how money from the telephone fund is spent, although he will be asking Albany to set rules to ensure the money is spent for inmates as cash spent from the commissary fund is supposed to be spent on inmates.

While Sheriff's Department officials weren't available Thursday to talk about the audit, Undersheriff Mark Wipperman responded in writing the to the audit, saying the $300,000 spent from the telephone fund were used legitimately for the cars, furniture and other items.

An additional $481,000 was spent legitimately on items not put in the county budget.

Shenk said 26 percent of the money was not spent properly.
          
"We're at a 74 percent rating. If you were taking a test would that be acceptable? We need to strive to get higher up and we need to get it right."

Shenk says releasing this report less than two weeks before Election Day had nothing to do with his own quest for election as Comptroller.
 

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.