OSBI Looks Into Missing Money at Jail

5-9-06 - The OSBI is looking into instances of missing money at the Bryan County Jail. The money, which belongs to inmates, has disappeared over the course of several weeks, and is one of two investigations by the OSBI.

The OSBI is just wrapping up an investigation that began after accused murderer Kevin Leon Cross broke out of the jail with two other inmates. Investigators are looking into whether any jailers broke the law during the escape.

Sheriff Bill Sturch of Bryan County said, "Over a period of several months, five to seven months back in the back in the spring of last year through fall of last year, we lost several thousands of dollars."

The money was reported missing over a period of time, most of it cash belonging to inmates at the jail. The Sheriff's Office and DA asked the OSBI to take a closer look.

George McFarland of OSBI said, "We are waiting for an audit to be set up an independent audit with a private organization, but typically on an invest like that, missing money from a government agency, this one is alleged to be over a period of time, a little bit missing here, some missing there. It's a paper chase trail."

But the most high-profile problem for the jail is escapes.

On February 11 Kevin Leon Cross and two other inmates broke out. Investigators want to know if the escapes were caused by inexperienced jailers making mistakes or something more sinister.

"Do we have an administrative problem at the jail or a personnel problem, or do we have a jailer that's being paid to let people go?"

The investigation is nearly wrapped up. Agents expect to turn their reports over to the DA's office in a matter of weeks.

Today, the OSBI would not comment on the details of what was uncovered, but the DA will determine if charges will be filed.

When an inmate is brought into the jail with cash he or she is given a receipt and the money is given to the county clerk. We know that some of the missing funds never made it to the clerk's office. When that happens usually the county will have to foot the bill for reimbursing the inmate.

We spoke with the jail administrator by phone today. She says the jail has made some changes. Cash is turned over to the county clerk everyday. In the past money was reported "sporadically."