Lawman and profiteer

San Diego sheriff Bill Gore
  • San Diego sheriff Bill Gore

San Diego sheriff Bill Gore mistakenly ferreted away more than $5 million of profits from commissaries at local jails, according to a recent audit by the county’s office of auditor and controller. “The Commissary allows inmates in County detention facilities to purchase snacks, hygiene items, stationary, [sic] over-the-counter medications, and phone time,” says the January document recently posted online. “In addition, the public can purchase gift packs and phone time for the inmates’ use. The fund generates a profit that is transferred to the Inmate Welfare Fund on a quarterly basis.”

But the audit found Gore wasn’t coughing up enough for his prisoners’ benefit. “The Sheriff’s Department accumulated excessive profit generated by the Store’s activities in the Jail Stores Commissary Fund. Specifically, as of December 31, 2013, accumulated profit amounted to $5,140,000 in the fund balance.” No sanction was proposed. “While the accumulated profit was not transferred on a timely basis to the Inmate Welfare Fund to be used for the benefit of the inmates,” the auditors said, it was “determined that these funds have not been used improperly.

The funds remain in the Jail Stores Commissary Fund awaiting transfer.” Responded Gore: “The actual profit will be calculated as part of fiscal year…closing in August 2015.”


Meanwhile, over at the city’s Fleet Parts division, a check by the city auditor has turned up some top-secret problems. “Our Fraud Risk Assessment determined that the Fleet Parts Division can improve its physical security and internal controls in order to reduce the opportunity for fraud to occur,” says the auditor. “A confidential detailed report was provided to you explaining in detail the fraud risks identified and related control weaknesses that should be addressed. The detailed report will not be distributed publically so that the control weaknesses we identified will not be exploited.”

Issues involved lack of security at an unnamed city property. “Park and Recreation Department staff has addressed approximately 70% of the fence and brush visibility issues (at the identified facility). The facility condition assessment will evaluate the need for any additional fencing repairs and improvements.”

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Inmate Welfare Fund - and just what services are provided by this jail controlled fund?

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