Investigation Finds that Money Stolen from Oregon Prison Wasn’t Really Stolen
by Joe Watson
An Oregon State Police investigation has revealed that money believed stolen from the Oregon State Correctional Institution (OSCI) was actually right where it was supposed to be – deposited in the Inmate Welfare Fund (IWF) and used for a range of expenses, including supplies, bus tickets for released prisoners and cable TV.
“The reportedly missing money was accounted for and deposited,” concluded State Police Lt. Steve Duvall in a May 2014 report. He said the investigation discounted as “unfounded” suspicions that a prison employee had pilfered the funds.
“Numerous deposits of OSCI visitor locker funds into the IWF can be reasonably accounted for back to October 2008,” Duvall wrote.
According to news reports in October 2013, auditors with the Oregon Department of Corrections suspected that someone had stolen quarters deposited in storage lockers used by prison visitors – about $100 to $200 every month – for a total take of around 104,000 quarters over a nine-year period, or an estimated $26,000.
Authorities suspected OSCI employee John E. Sipple, the prison’s former recreation manager who was in charge of clearing funds from the visitor lockers. Sipple was investigated for theft and admitted that he accepted cash kickbacks for food purchases, but denied taking any quarters.
Duvall said the state police investigation revealed “no evidence” to contradict Sipple’s claim of innocence. What the investigation did find was a “lack of oversight in the process, inadequate accounting of funds, and the lack of sufficient records.”
Apparently, no formal procedure for handling the funds from visitor lockers was in place before OSCI Superintendent Rob Persson took over in August 2011.
“There is no record of who was designated,” said Persson, who added there was little if any safeguarding of the key used for opening the locker coin boxes. “Anybody could have grabbed the key.”
“We did not have proper procedures in place for the account of locker revenue,” Corrections Department spokeswoman Liz Craig acknowledged in an email to The Oregonian. “We have since taken steps to remedy that.”
For example, $1,400 of the missing funds ended up in the wrong bank account – funds that were overlooked by the agency’s auditors, Craig stated, because “they were deposited into a separate accounting system.”
She said the department agreed with the state police’s conclusion that “no crime could be substantiated.”
Sources: www.correctionsone.com, The Oregonian, www.oregonlive.com
As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login