The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office said it’s already credited the city for overpayments made for an ankle bracelet monitoring program, which was the subject of a city Inspector General’s report this week.
The report found that the city overpaid Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s office by more than $200,000 in 2011 and 2012.
“It was simply an accounting error, so the accounting error has been accounted for,” sheriff’s spokesman Philip Stelly said. “We’ve given the city a credit and it’s been made whole.”
However, Stelly couldn’t provide the date when the credit was issued, but he said that the city received a credit of more than $200,000. For specifics, Stelly directed The Lens back to the Inspector General’s report.
Deputy Mayor Jerry Sneed responded to questions by email saying that future payments will be more closely scrutinized, but he didn’t answer questions to confirm that the city has received a credit from the Sheriff’s Office.
In Gusman’s response to the findings, his remarks in the report mentions only a $23,000 credit.
“The error was corrected on the master template as soon as it was discovered, and the City was indeed credited,” Gusman wrote.
Gusman also explained how he ameliorated one double-billing issue. In 2012, the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation gave a grant to the Sheriff’s Office to expand the monitoring program. The report found that the Sheriff’s Office billed both the city and the foundation for the same defendants that same year.
Gusman acknowledged the error, and he wrote that the problem was mostly due to a mistake that happened during emergency-preparedness efforts for Hurricane Isaac. The money taken from the foundation’s grant money was returned to the grant budget right away, he added.
Gusman noted other mistakes that his office had worked to correct, but his responses didn’t mention anything about crediting the city.
For instance, Gusman said that a mistake in rent charges accounted for most of the overbilling. Gusman charged the city $140,000 to occupy an office that should have cost $11,730.
That problem was fixed in December 2013, according to the Sheriff’s Office, when officials recalculated the the rent. The report explains that the office fixed the problem for future payments, but it doesn’t explicitly say the money was credited back.
“OPSO agrees that the rent value was miscalculated and corrected it,” Gusman wrote.
In terms of billing for post-conviction clients that didn’t belong in the program – the city was only supposed to pay for pre-trial defendants – Gusman said that he was only following court orders, and didn’t offer a plan of action other than to have “stronger communication” with the court system about the rules of the program.
Gusman’s anticipated revenue for the program included money from the city agreement, as well as from defendants who paid their own monitoring expenses.
Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux said that he wasn’t aware of the sheriff’s effort to credit the city, but that was because his office had not yet done a follow-up report, which as a matter of practice would be scheduled 24 months after the initial report.
His office didn’t recommend a plan for paying the city back. When asked why, Quatrevaux explained that his role is to give a “broader recommendation,” such as improving fiscal controls or increasing oversight.
What about the city getting repaid?
“That’s for city administration,” Quatrevaux said.