‘Properly Handled and Accounted For’: Controller’s 2019 Audit of Forfeiture Accounts Clean

The Lancaster County Controller has completed an annual audit of the district attorney’s forfeiture accounts, finding income and spending for the 2019 audit period was proper and in accordance with standards.

The Controller and Pennsylvania Attorney General conduct separate audits of assets and cash forfeited in Lancaster County drug cases and how those assets are used.

Property and cash are seized from drug dealers in Lancaster County after convictions (aside from rare exceptions).

Forfeiture accounts have been found to be in full compliance by the Controller and Attorney General for every year District Attorney Craig Stedman has served as the county’s top prosecutor.

The Controller filed a memo with the County Commissioners on Sept. 28 regarding the audit of forfeiture activity from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.

(The Controller’s memo is attached at the bottom.)

“Property forfeited to the District Attorney’s Office during our audit period was properly handled and accounted for,” the Controller writes in the memo.

Cash forfeitures were down in 2019 compared to figures from last year’s audit – from $437,218 (in 2018) to $301,655 (in 2019).

Also of note: Funds received from federal forfeitures were down drastically from $238,812 (in 2018) to $2,003 (in 2019).

Spending from forfeiture accounts was down this past year, by about $57,000, from 2018.

Forfeitures help to support the Lancaster County Drug Task Force, in addition to contributions from municipalities and, to a much lesser degree, an approximate $100,000 annual contribution from the County of Lancaster.

The Task’s Force operating budget is around $1.3 million.

Forfeitures, both locally and federally, vary greatly from year to year which is why DA Stedman has for years publicly stated a more stable funding mechanism must be established for the Drug Task Force.

Also attached at the bottom are forfeiture account summaries dating back to 2000. A summary for the past year cannot be publicly released until the Attorney General’s Office files their audit with the state legislature. That is expected to happen later in the year.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; bhambright@co.lancaster.pa.us; Twitter: @BrettHambright