Auditor: Roanoke JDR court clerk did not properly bill, collect court costs in 2017

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - The Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts has found the Roanoke Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court clerk and her staff did not properly bill and collect court costs during the 2017 fiscal year.

According to a letter addressed to Roanoke Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Chief Judge Onzlee Ware dated December 15, 2017, the APA noted they performed a statewide audit of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts.

During the 2017 fiscal year, auditors looked through 15 cases handled through the Roanoke JDR District Court and noted the following errors:

- In six cases, the defendants were not billed for $922 in court costs.
- In seven cases, defendants were overcharged a total of $841 in court costs.
- In one appealed case, court costs totaling $96 were not certified to the Circuit Court.
- In one appealed case, court costs of $96 were incorrectly certified to the Circuit Court.

During the 2016 fiscal year, auditors noted the clerk didn't deposit money quick enough, an issue auditors say increases the risk of losing money. Auditors also noted the clerk did not delete system access for four former court service unit employees for up to five months following the employees' last day of work.

Auditors outlined why it's important to delete system access for former employees: "Having unauthorized individuals with access to the court’s automated information system could compromise the integrity of the system and the data it contains. In addition, it is critical that only authorized individuals have access to the confidential information in the court’s automated information system."

In 2015, auditors also found the clerk's office did not properly bill and collect court costs.

In nine of 32 cases tested, auditors noted the following errors.
-In five cases, the defendants were not billed $758 in court costs.
-In three cases, the defendants were overcharged a total of $75 in court costs.
-In one case, the time to pay fee of $10 was miscoded as a state fine.

The Roanoke Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Clerk Carolyn Robbins declined an on-camera interview and instead released the following statement:

"Any errors found by the auditor have been corrected. As the amounts owed in the affected cases had not yet been paid, there was no loss of revenue or refund necessary. Staff have been made aware of these errors and they are continuing to receive training on the processing of fines and costs. I have been an employee in the District Courts since 1976, and the Clerk of this court for approximately two and half years. I am proud of my staff and their ability to learn from their mistakes and to improve their performance. We will continue with our training efforts as we strive for an effective and efficient office."