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Nonprofit to replace Richmond County sheriff's 'benevolent fund'

Tuesday, July 2, 2013 8:34 PM
Last updated 9:09 PM
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Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree said Tuesday he was putting an end to a nearly 50-year-old practice in Richmond County.

Richard Roundtree: Sheriff added the office's benevolent fund to his nonprofit.  FILE/STAFF
FILE/STAFF
Richard Roundtree: Sheriff added the office's benevolent fund to his nonprofit.


Roundtree said he transferred all money from the old sheriff’s benevolent fund – more than $40,000 – to an account controlled by his new nonprofit corporation. The sheriff said he also seeking to have the fund’s main source of money – fees for funeral procession escorts – to be channeled through the city’s Finance Department.

Roundtree said when the transition is complete, all the money, fees and donations will be accounted for by an independent auditor.

“It will all be audited,” he said. “It will be handled just like all of our other funds.”

Roundtree said he established the nonprofit – Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Benevolent Fund Inc. – to better account for donations intended to benefit his officers and to provide better transparency.

Since 2008, fees and donations have averaged more than $30,000 per year, according to sheriff’s office financial records.

Until last month, all that money had been kept in an unaudited checking account controlled by the sheriff – a practice established in the 1960s by Sheriff George Mutimer.

Mutimer said the fund was intended to provide a source of money for “unforeseen expenses” for deputies and to buy flowers for the ill or deceased. At the time, the fund’s main source was vending machines in the Richmond County jail.

Over time, the source became primarily fees charged for the work of deputies escorting funeral processions. In recent years, the fund was still used for flowers and to help deputies having financial trouble, but most of the money was spent on Christmas parties, retirement events, sponsorships and other purposes.

Roundtree said that according to standard nonprofit practice, the account will be audited each year and the fund will be required to file a tax return each year that will be available for public inspection.

As for the funeral escort fees, the sheriff said a new procedure will need to be established.

Until last month, checks from funeral homes were deposited directly into the benevolent fund checking account. Roundtree said he wants the money directed to the finance department, much like revenue generated from the jail commissary and inmate telephone calls.

He can’t change that by himself, however.

“We will continue as always until we get direction from the county commission and the general counsel,” he said.

The city attorney needs to weigh in because the way the fee is currently collected and handled places its legality in doubt, according to state officials. State law requires all public revenue to be accounted for in the county’s financial statements and presented for audits.

Officials with the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association have said county sheriffs cannot collect such fees unless authorized by a local ordinance.

Roundtree expects the Augusta Commission will want to put such an ordinance in place, although it has yet to be proposed.

Commissioner Grady Smith said he agrees the issue needs to be addressed, and soon. Smith said if the commission ignores the fee and allows it to continue without formal authorization, that could create legal problems down the line.

“We need to do what is above board and what is correct,” he said. “I will be the first one to say to the sheriff, ‘I don’t have a problem with it if it is handled in the right way.’ ”

Comments (14) Add comment
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soapy_725
44151
Points
soapy_725 07/02/13 - 07:47 pm
1
0
Shadow Fund. 501(3)c? Religious organizations love shadow funds.
Unpublished

Hide the bologna. Hide that pea from the IRS

Riverman1
94351
Points
Riverman1 07/02/13 - 09:46 pm
6
1
It seems to be a move to more

It seems to be a move to more transparency.

my.voice
5182
Points
my.voice 07/02/13 - 10:01 pm
6
6
His non profit? And when he's

His non profit? And when he's no longer Sherrif? Seems a tad flawed to me. Someone better get their brain wrapped around this before it goes off the rails.

JRC2024
10562
Points
JRC2024 07/02/13 - 10:35 pm
6
5
My.voice, He is doing the

My.voice, He is doing the right thing with the money. Do not pick the words to death. I did not vote for him but he is doing a good job.

AutumnLeaves
10441
Points
AutumnLeaves 07/02/13 - 11:02 pm
3
0
I don't know all the why's

I don't know all the why's and wherefore's, but could he name it something else? I've been hanging up on calls from a similarly named organization for years.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 07/03/13 - 05:30 am
3
3
It was "off the rails" in the
Unpublished

It was "off the rails" in the first place, my.voice. Geez, damned if you do and damned if you don't.

corgimom
38777
Points
corgimom 07/03/13 - 06:07 am
2
3
This was LONG OVERDUE, and

This was LONG OVERDUE, and was sorely needed!

corgimom
38777
Points
corgimom 07/03/13 - 06:11 am
2
2
The agent for this is

The agent for this is Randolph Frails, 211 Pleasant Home Rd.

It would seem that the AC would be interested in talking to Mr. Frails. I'll even provide the email address:
randyfrails@frailswilsonlaw.com

nocnoc
49729
Points
nocnoc 07/03/13 - 07:31 am
6
0
The Wording In The Article

"...to an account controlled by his new nonprofit corporation. "

Is it Mr. Roundtree's, ARC's, or the Sheriffs Department?

A few questions
Since it will be a 501 c#? NP:

*Who will be the Board Members and how will they be selected?
Will it be by the incoming Sheriff, or will the Board serve a term that overlaps into the next sheriffs term?

* How much of the $$$$ used to conduct the independent audit?
CPA's aren't cheap.

* How will the independent auditor be chosen?
Will the auditor be a Local ARC CPA's, CSRA wide or previous campaign donor?

* Will it be the same each year overlapping the new sheriffs or will it be passed around from CPA to CPA

* What will the stated reason for the NP and operational goals?

* What safe guards will be in place... obviously any are better than now.

* If flowers are to be send to a sick or injured deputy or god forbid a deputy's widow, will it require a Board meeting and encompass a delay?

* Since elections fall as they may, and reporting cycles fall as they may how will this be worked out for Board Members and auditing.

* Will the 501c # Board meetings be open to the public?

There are other questions, but I believe the readers get the direction I pointing.

Either way a good move if the $$$ continues to be used for the reasons originally intended. While the old way was prone to issues, admittedly the new is better, but also has its own mix of addressable issues.

BTW:
My only suggestion.
Keep the Politicians hands and control out of the
process.

Truth Matters
8097
Points
Truth Matters 07/03/13 - 09:46 am
2
0
@nocnoc

You raise good questions. May I suggest that you formulate a letter and send it to your commissioner so it can be considered. Just airing it here will not likely have an impact.

Can't wait to see if your ideas see the light of day.

corgimom
38777
Points
corgimom 07/03/13 - 09:55 am
2
1
This slush fund was one of

This slush fund was one of Augusta's dirty little secrets. And that money was under his control as sheriff. And if you go to the GA Secretary of State website, you can register and find out who the corporate officers are, I just didn't feel like bothering with it.

He is the logical choice to be the President of the corporation, and this is actually a positive thing.

Sweet son
11770
Points
Sweet son 07/03/13 - 12:10 pm
1
2
nonoc is right on target!!!

What will the money be used for??? There is no way a $25.00 charge for a funeral escort will pay for the manpower and equipment to provide the service. If our government wants to continue to provide this service then do away with the charge and just do it! No need to create a non profit "slush fund" for the new sheriff! The money will just be wasted on worthless "programs."

The other point is that the charge for the escort is simply passed on to families who are already paying taxes for this service!

TrulyWorried
16721
Points
TrulyWorried 07/03/13 - 12:53 pm
4
0
Whatever way it will go

make sure the safe is locked!!!

WhatIsTheTruth
6
Points
WhatIsTheTruth 07/03/13 - 01:18 pm
4
0
Is it true that former RCSO

Is it true that former RCSO Sgt. Jessie Jackson's federal lawsuit exposed former Sheriff Ronald Strength's illegal use of the Sheriff's Benevolent Fund which Sheriff Roundtree states he can only locate records of dating back to the year 2008?

nocnoc
49729
Points
nocnoc 07/03/13 - 06:59 pm
2
0
Truth Matters - District 8 is

Truth Matters - District 8 is lucky,

Our commissioner actually reads the AC Rants and Raves and stories that might come to his attention.

More than once I called him on one matter and have him handle it and then be asked what I think about something else also as a voter.

A few times he has taken the time to correct some misinformation and reset my compass when I was wrong.

He seems to actually care and most of all LISTEN.

Frank I
1204
Points
Frank I 07/06/13 - 09:12 pm
0
0
connection corgimom

Randolph Frails was Roundtree's campaign adviser..

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