Tag Archives: traffic tickets

Missouri State Audits Show Potential Fraud by Wayne County Sheriff Dean Finch

The following post was originally published on the website of Southeast Missouri CopBlock under the title “Did Sheriff Dean Finch Steal from the County?” It was shared with the CopBlock Network by Bryan Jeffers of SEMO Copblock, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

Did Sheriff Dean Finch Steal from the County?

The Missouri State Auditor has finished an audit on Wayne County, Missouri. This is the county’s second audit since 2013. Back in 2013, the county received an overall performance rating of poor. The newest audit was just released and the auditor reported that Wayne County once again received a poor rating.

Could this be the results of Dean Finch stealing from the county?

In the auditor’s report (which can be read here) Nicole Galloway, CPA, said:

“The county has received an overall performance rating of poor financial condition with serious concerns. The cash balance is low and does not take into account significant liabilities of the fund, including $471,846 due to the Special Road and Bridge Fund.

The prosecuting attorney frequently reduces charges filed on traffic tickets by requiring defendants to make a donation, ranging from $50 to $300, to the county’s Special Law Enforcement Fund as a condition of reducing the charges. Donations totaled approximately $44,500 for the year ending December 31, 2015. Written plea agreements signed by the defendant and the judge do not disclose the amount the defendant was required to donate to the Special Law Enforcement Fund.

Receipt slips are not issued immediately upon receipt of bad check fees and donations, checks and money orders are not restrictively endorsed promptly, and monies are not transmitted timely. The prosecuting attorney has not established adequate procedures to ensure 10-day letters are issued and charges are filed timely with the court for unresolved bad check complaints”

In 2013, the prosecuting attorney at the time, Robert Ramshur, told the Wayne County Journal-Banner:

“The auditor’s office said they could find no authority for the fund’s existence. Yet, since he said that, the County Commission has approved an ordinance validating the fund.” (For more click here)

So after the auditor found no authority for the fund the county quickly made the authority for it. Was the county trying to backpedal and cover for the extortion of traffic offenders by prosecuting attorney and the sheriff ‘s office back in 2013? The same practice of extorting traffic offenders still continues now with the authority of the county.

Sheriff Dean Finch maintains a bank account outside the county treasury according to the auditor’s 2016 report:

“This account has an unidentified balance,  to account for proceeds from the U.S. Department of Justice Equitable Sharing Program without statutory authority.”

Did Sheriff Dean Finch steal money from the bank account he did not have the authority to maintain?

The report states that the bank account Dean Finch maintains may be against the law:

“There is no statutory authority allowing the Sheriff to maintain this account outside the county treasury. Section 50.370, RSMO, requires every county official who receives any fees or other remuneration for official services to pay such monies to the county treasurer. In addition, Attorney General’s Opinion No. 45-1992 to the Hickory County Prosecuting Attorney, states sheriffs are not authorized to maintain a bank account for law enforcement purposes separate from the county treasury”

Should Dean Finch be charged convicted and jailed for this?

Nicole Galloway in her 2016 audit of Wayne County said:

“The Sheriff has not entered into written agreements with the City of Greenville or surrounding counties for the boarding of prisoners detailing the prisoner housing rate to be paid, the services to be provided, or any required notification for emergency or non-routine situations.”

This means, if you were arrested by the City of Greenville or any surrounding cities or counties and were housed by Wayne County, they had no formal plan for that city or county to pay Wayne County for your jail time. Nor did they have any plans for emergency or non-routine situations. Could this be the reason Darrell Antone Died in Wayne County custody in 2015? (read more on his death here)

The Sheriff leases his car to the county for $1 a year, but that is not the real concern. The concern is what the county paid him for mileage.

According to the report:

“The Sheriff is to be responsible for all maintenance, upkeep, and operating expenses. Although not specified in the lease agreement, the Sheriff was paid $0.56 per mile as compensation for leasing his vehicle to the county during the year ended December 31, 2015. Mileage reimbursements paid to the Sheriff during the year ended December 31, 2015, totaled $19,425. The Sheriff maintains mileage logs that include his badge number, the date, and the number of miles driven per day while patrolling the county.”

Assuming if this practice has been done the whole time he was Sheriff, this would mean in the current term he would have been paid a total of over $77,700 and in his two terms total of $155,400 for driving his personal vehicle. That is more than two times what the average citizen of Wayne County makes in a year.

It seems to me that Dean Finch is using his position of power to profit as much money from the county as he can. Why did Dean Finch use his position to steal an income of at least $155,400 in eight years of driving his personal car around?

In the report Nicole Galloway states:

“In addition to the mileage logs submitted to the County Clerk’s office for reimbursement, we noted the Sheriff’s badge number also appeared on the fuel logs used to track fuel obtained from the Sheriff’s Office bulk fuel tank during 2015. These logs indicate the Sheriff fueled his vehicle from the bulk fuel tank 68 times in 2015; totaling 791 gallons, in addition to claiming and receiving compensation of $19,425 for the miles driven.”

Below you will find a spreadsheet we made outlining how much we estimate he was paid by the county when you add the reimbursement and the free gas he filled his car with for over the 7 years he was double dipping taking into a low-ball average of $2.50/gallon.

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Wayne County paid the sheriff over 1/2 million dollars in eight years. In those eight years, Finch was paid $155,400 over his salary. He was “gifted” with over $13,000 in free gas because the county paid twice for it.

In the report, it does, however, say:

“Beginning in 2016, the Sheriff began subtracting the cost of the fuel obtained from the bulk fuel tank from the mileage logs submitted to the County Clerk monthly. For example, in April 2016, the Sheriff was reimbursed $1,600 for 3,282 miles driven ($0.54 per mile for 2016) after deducting $172 for 97 gallons of fuel obtained from the county’s bulk fuel tank. The Sheriff calculated the amount to be deducted by multiplying the number of gallons pumped times the current price per gallon.”

This year is the 1st year Dean Finch decided to pay for the gas he is using. Will Dean Finch pay back the well over $13,000 he stole from double dipping?  Why is Dean Finch not in jail for stealing over $13,000 in gas?

The county has no accountability. In the 2015 audit report, it says:

“Neither the County Clerk nor the County Commission adequately reviews the financial activities of the County Collector. The County Clerk does not maintain an account book or other records summarizing property tax charges, transactions, and changes. The County Clerk and the County Commission do not perform procedures to verify the accuracy and completeness of the County Collector’s annual settlements. The County Clerk and County Commission do not adequately monitor additions and abatements entered into the property tax system.”

Wayne County citizens deserve better than Dean Finch.

Dean Finch, as Sheriff, cares more about loading his own pockets than protecting us and doing his job. According to the audit, he broke the law by managing a bank account he should never manage by law. He might of stole gas for seven years by the county paying for the gas in his car twice, once to him and once to the company the county gets the bulk gas from. He holds no accountability for the employees’ time sheets and overall is a horrible sheriff. Should Dean Finch be arrested? Did he steal over $13,000 in gas? Whats was up with the bank account he managed that he should never have had controll of?

– Bryan Jeffers

SEMO CopBlock

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Henderson, NV Police Dismissed Traffic Tickets for “Interest of Justice Family/Friends of HPD”

Henderson Police BadgeA recent audit revealed that as many as 96 traffic citations were dismissed improperly in Henderson NV, a suburb of Las Vegas, after having been filed with the court system. In a bit of Orwellian phraseology, one of the reasons given for those dismissals was listed as “Interest of Justice Family/Friends of HPD.”

According to the Las Vegas Review Journal:

In March, police spokeswoman Michelle French called that reason “not acceptable under our policy.”

But Police Chief Patrick Moers’ five-page response to the audit never mentions the “family/friends” case and makes no attempt to explain it. Moers did not return a call for comment Monday.

The officer who filled out that form — and two supervisors who signed off on it — are still on the force. Their ranks and assignments have not changed, city spokeswoman Kathleen Richards said Monday.

An Internal Affairs Bureau investigation into the issue started March 25 and ended May 21, but Richards said she could not discuss its findings or whether any officers had been disciplined because it involved personnel matters.

City Manager Robert Murnane, who took office last week, was not involved with the audit. But he said audits — and responses to them — generally focus on what needs to be changed to prevent future problems, rather than on why an employee might have done something wrong…

Under state law, only a judge can throw out a ticket once it’s been filed in court, but the city auditor said officers routinely had citations dismissed by filling out an internal form and filing it with Henderson Municipal Court staff. The citations were then dismissed by court staff without a hearing before a judge…

Officers are allowed to ask that a ticket be voided for legitimate reasons, such as an error made in writing the citation or a speeding driver proving he was on his way to a family emergency.

Henderson Police Beating a Diabetic Man

Henderson Police Beating a Diabetic Man

That’s sort of a fancy (and unconvincing) way of saying, “we promise not to do all that illegal stuff again, but we’re not going to bother to hold anyone accountable for it.” Of course, Henderson is the city where police officers got away completely unpunished for beating a motorist that was having a diabetic seizure, because according to District Attorney Steve Wolfson, they are trained in the academy to kick people in the head while arresting them. So, this intentional lack of accountability should not come as any more of a surprise than it would with the rest of the police departments throughout the Las Vegas area.

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Reliance on Traffic Ticket Revenue Has Left Nevada Supreme Court Broke

Back in March, Nevada Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty warned state legislators that the NV Supreme Court coffers were bare, due to a drop in revenue from traffic tickets. A decrease in the amount of tickets being issued by law enforcement state-wide had left the courts $700k over budget this year and facing another $700k shortage next year, for a $1.4 million total shortfall. In Nevada and other states, the state supreme court is funded by assessment fees added onto the fines for traffic citations.

Hardesty made sure lawmakers knew he wasn’t fooling around with an ominous threat to take everyone’s ball and go home if they didn’t find some way for taxpayers to pay up:

NV Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty

Justice James Hardesty

“If this is not addressed by May 1, the court will not have sufficient cash to operate,” Hardesty said in his testimony to lawmakers, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. “I believe the legislature has a constitutional obligation to fund the judicial branch of government. Do you want me to close the judicial branch of government at the state level on May 1?”

As you’ve probably noticed, it’s past May 1st and Nevada still has a functioning Supreme Court. That’s because the state legislature passed NV SB469, which provided $600k in “emergency” funds to hold them over for a little while longer. There are, of course, larger issues beyond an unpredictable budget that are created by the propensity for government agencies and courts to use traffic and other citations as a revenue generation source.

NV Courts Revenue GenerationThe first and most obvious being that it creates a perverse incentive for lawmakers to pass laws based solely for that purpose and for police to enforce laws based on that priority. The reliance on drug seizure funds for local police departments, the huge growth in the War on (Some) Drugs, and the resulting human rights violations that have resulted are well documented at this point.

The less apparent and visible result involves the continued erosion of the premise that cops are here to “protect and serve.” Hardesty himself states that the budget crunch is a result of a change in priorities by police across the state. The Las Vegas Review Journal takes it a step further stating:

“the number of tickets written by law enforcement agencies around the state has been declining steadily, partly because state troopers have focused on violations more likely to lead to crashes…

Part of the reason, police said, is the NHP Strategic Plan’s emphasis on violations that could cause crashes, including distracted driving and driving under the influence. Police also believe enforcement and the Zero Fatalities education program have changed drivers’ behavior, while completion of some major highway projects has made traffic move better.”

When an emphasis on safety over revenue generation and a perceived improvement in driver’s behavior and road conditions is seen as a problem, then that’s actually a problem. Further, when the general population’s interaction with the police and courts trends increasingly toward negative and unnecessary harassment, it doesn’t help the already battered reputations of departments, such as the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

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Recently, the entire Las Vegas Constable’s Office was dissolved with one of the bigger reasons behind that being the corruption caused by tying revenue to citations. The biggest scheme consisted of an assessment fee attached to tickets issued to people that didn’t change their car registration within 30 days of moving from another state. A 2012 modification in that law increasing the amount of fines and decreasing the amount of time allowed to change registration, which was itself passed explicitly to increase revenue, also allowed constables to collect a commission on the assessment fee.

The fact that those ticketed had to pay the assessment fee even if they were actually within the allotted 30 days, led to constables spending the majority of their days trolling through parking lots and apartment complexes looking for anyone with an out of state license plate. As you might imagine, it didn’t exactly endear them to new residents or others within the community. Nor did the unauthorized traffic stops that they began making to bring in even more cash.

Revenue Generation Through CitationsAs already noted in a previous post, the Las Vegas Municipal Courts also recently came under fire for their “money hungry” ways. Among those criticisms was that the courts were putting revenue generation before safety by allowing people that were actually a threat and prone to violence to pay fees rather than go to jail. They also were accused of charging excessive fees to non-violent offenders with financial difficulties in order to keep them paying over long periods of time. (See the video below for an illustration of the loan-shark style scam that traffic tickets now represent.)

Not surprisingly, when you make the funding of government dependent on harassing and stealing from the citizens what you end up with is a government whose main function is to find new and worse ways to harass and steal from those citizens. The equally unsurprising aftereffect is to create a citizenry that sees government as nothing, but a den of thieves. When positive behavior is seen as a bad thing because it makes funding that government more difficult, then that assessment of them is pretty valid.

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