More than $140,000 worth of checks that went uncashed for more than a year are being reissued by the St. John the Baptist Parish Clerk of Court’s Office and turned over to the state treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division, as recommended in an audit report by the state Legislative Auditor’s Office.
St. John Clerk of Court Eliana DeFrancesch sent out 796 checks totaling $140,923 in refunds to people who had paid legal costs and other fees to the clerk, but the checks went uncashed for at least a year after being mailed, according to the audit, which covered the fiscal year that ended June 30.
The audit was done by the accounting firm Carr Riggs & Ingram LLC.
The report said the Clerk’s Office did not have “adequate policies and procedures to identify and remit stale outstanding checks to the state.”
In response, DeFrancesh’s office agreed to begin monitoring its records for outstanding checks each month as required, the report said.
“We send any funds that are in the case back to the attorney or the client or whoever put up the money,” DeFrancesh said Thursday. “Apparently what happened was that some either got lost in the mail or they never cleared the bank, so we have to go back, find the checks and reissue them.”
For the year, the Clerk’s Office recorded almost $2 million in expenses and about $1.9 million in revenue, which included money from services and investment earnings. It was $115,726 over budget for the year, according to the audit.
The report also noted that DeFrancesch’s office was not returning unused balances from prepaid court costs in cases that had not seen activity in five years, as required by law. DeFrancesch said in her response that her office will begin reviewing inactive cases for outstanding balances and begin keeping better track of any unused balances.
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