Did firms dupe Sheriff Green?

Findings from a forensic audit of the Philadelphia sheriff’s office, which claims to have found widespread mismanagement and possible fraud of millions, have been forwarded to the U.S. attorney’s office.

“Sheriff John Green abandoned his responsibility to protect the public interest. He disgraced his office by allowing private parties to improperly benefit financially at the expense of the most vulnerable — those who lost their homes,” said City Controller Alan Butkovitz, whose office conducted the first audit in 2010.

Green, who retired last year, conducted mortgage foreclosure, tax lien and delinquent tax sales.

According to the audit, two firms — Reach and RCS —were paid $206 million by the office between 2005 and 2010 for advertising and other services. The owner of the firms was the brother of the director of the real estate division in the sheriff’s office. Green, however, claimed he had no knowledge of who signed the contracts or what they were for.

The audit also allegedly reveals that the firms overcharged between $7.4 million and $11.6 million for services. It also collected money for outstanding utilities, but it did not turn the money over.

Acting Sheriff Barbara Deeley, who worked as Green’s chief of staff, released a statement insisting that she is trying to fix the problems.

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