Audit of Philly sheriff’s office turned over to U.S. authorities

A forensic audit of the Philadelphia sheriff’s department has been handed over to federal authorities for possible criminal prosecution.

Philadelphia Controller Alan Butkovitz said Wednesday his audit shows former Sheriff John Green basically turned over the sale of foreclosed properties to a private company, which Butkovitz believes overcharged between $7 million and $11 million for its services.

He also said the company didn’t share proceeds from auctioned properties with the former homeowners.

“This investigation uncovered people getting rich at the expense of the poor. They overcharged fees for items and charged excess fees for services they were not contracted to perform,” Butkovitz said. “And John Green turned a blind eye.”

Butkovitz said he has submitted his findings to the U.S. attorney’s office for review.

“It merits an intense serious review by people who have investigative and law enforcement powers,” he said. “I can’t speculate about what they might or might not find nor should I.”

Butkovitz said the company, Reach Communications Specialists, overcharged for advertising foreclosure sales and was paid to settle past-due gas bills on properties, but never did so.

Green could not be reached Wednesday. He has told investigators he didn’t know how much was being charged for advertising.

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