INVESTIGATION BY CLERK’S AUDIT UNIT LEADS TO ARREST
WEST PALM BEACH, FL (December 4, 2009) – An internal investigation by Clerk & Comptroller Sharon Bock’s Public Integrity Investigations (PII) Unit led to the arrest yesterday of a former employee at the West County Courthouse in Belle Glade. Working in partnership with the Clerk’s office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and State Attorney’s office charged Juliana Morales with felony official misconduct. The 28-year-old is suspected of intentionally altering state traffic records while working in the office’s Violations Bureau. The charges stem from an investigation first initiated in July of 2009 by the PII Unit, which is part of the Clerk’s internal Inspector General Division.
In July, a routine review of traffic records by Clerk staff uncovered a discrepancy between Clerk records and those of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). The immediate audit conducted by the Clerk’s PII Unit indentified 10 instances in which Morales had improperly cleared driver’s license suspensions between February and June 2009.
“Our routine audits and other controls are doing what they should,” said Clerk Bock. “However, it’s always disappointing to find this type of wrongdoing among our knowledgeable and trusted staff.”
Morales was terminated on July 31, 2009, at the conclusion of the Clerk’s investigation and the case was turned over to law enforcement for possible prosecution. The improperly cleared suspensions were re-entered and the Clerk’s office is currently pursuing the associated outstanding fees and fines.
The Clerk’s Public Integrity Investigations Unit, which is part of the office’s Division of Inspector General, conducts investigations of suspected fraud, waste, abuse, or ethical misconduct initiated through the Clerk & Comptroller’s employee ethics hotline or other sources. For more information please visit www.mypalmbeachclerk.com.
The Florida Constitution established the independent office of the Clerk & Comptroller as a public trustee, responsible for safeguarding public records and public funds. Clerk Sharon Bock is directly elected by and accountable to Palm Beach County residents. In addition to the roles of Clerk of the Circuit Court, County Recorder and Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners, the Clerk & Comptroller is the Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Auditor for Palm Beach County.
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