The Fort Worth police department mistakenly turned over $390,802 in unclaimed funds to the state of Texas between 2015 and 2019 and the city now wants a refund.
City auditors made the discovery while examining a $2.4 million police account that holds money seized from suspected criminals.
The review found that police track the money using an Excel spreadsheet with over 3,000 entries that is “manually intensive and time-consuming” and contributes to delays and errors.
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Separately, the audit revealed $768,352 awarded to the city in 168 different judgments remained in the police account and never transferred to a separate city account so it could be counted as revenue.
The department is in the process of doing that now after auditors pointed it out, they said.
Auditors also noted that $366,759 was seized in 473 gambling cases over the four-year period, but police records did not indicate whether the cases were filed for forfeiture or resolved. There was no indication any money was missing but the department was faulted for not properly categorizing it.
Auditors made several recommendations on how to improve the process and the police department agreed with most of them.
The department said it had sent the $390,802 in unclaimed funds to the state comptroller based on past legal advice but auditors said police are exempt from the process, known as "escheatment."
City council member Cary Moon, chair of the audit committee, said he is optimistic the funds given to the state in error will be returned.
Moon also said he is grateful to auditors for their work.
“This is a win for us,” he said. “We’ve got to do better with taxpayer dollars.”
Moon added that accountants in the police department essentially do their own work and do not report to the city’s Chief Financial Officer. He said the audit pointed out the need for a streamlined system.