Audit Uncovers Albemarle, Cville Court Clerk Office Errors - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Audit Uncovers Albemarle, Charlottesville Court Clerk Office Errors

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A state audit of court clerks offices in Charlottesville and Albemarle uncovers dozens of accounting discrepancies - worth thousands of dollars.

A clerk of court is responsible for more than 800 duties. The state audits reveal where the clerks are failing to keep track of the money coming through the courts.

"Mistakes are going to be made. We'll correct them," said Llezelle Dugger, Charlottesville Circuit Court clerk.

Dugger says she's learning from the results of a state audit of her office.

The review found errors in 25 of 41 sample cases. Some defendants were overcharged fines and fees. Other defendants were never charged $1,811 in court costs.

"There is human error when you're keying in amounts. There's also statutory confusion," said Dugger.

The audit discovered the clerk's office failed to reconcile its bank accounts for more than a year.

"It's just learning everything that's coming into my account and then making sure I send it out to the state timely and send it out to the locality timely," said Dugger.

Dugger says every error identified by auditors has been corrected. Now, she's focusing on staff training to clean up next year's audit.

"If you come back in four years, five years and I'm still having issues - or the same issues, then that's on me," said Dugger.

This is the fourth audit with errors for Albemarle County Circuit Court Clerk Debra Shipp.

"I'm not happy with the state report," said Shipp.  

Auditors found the clerk's office is holding more than $423,000 worth of possible unclaimed property.

The county and commonwealth lost revenue when the clerk's office failed to file tax set-off claims for $2,300 in delinquent costs and fines.

"To me, keeping the daily business going is far more important than trying to get money to the state. I'd rather try to get it to the people it belongs to," said Shipp.

Shipp blames the errors on understaffing. Albemarle County has denied her request since 2008 to fund one new worker.

"I was told from the very get-go, you need a bookkeeper. Well, I do. It's hard to have a bookkeeper if they won't fund the position," said Shipp.

Shipp has nine employees in her office. Counties similar in population to Albemarle have at least 12 fulltime staff members in their clerk's offices.

To read the full Albemarle County Circuit Court clerk audit, click here. To read the full Charlottesville Circuit Court clerk audit, click here

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