Clearfield-Jefferson Drug and Alcohol Commission files suit against Clearfield County Controller

CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield-Jefferson Drug and Alcohol Commission has filed a complaint against the Clearfield County Controller for 10 years’ worth of allegedly missing money.

According to court documents, the Substance Abuse Education and Demand Reduction Act, known as Act 198, imposes a requirement upon the county to impose and collect cost and assessments from criminal defendants convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, and/or violations of the Controlled Substance Act.

According to the documents, upon receipt of the costs and assessments, the county is to forward half of the money to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for deposit into the fund maintained and administered by the state Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and half the money is to be retained in the county to be used to fund substance abuse treatment and prevention programs.

The CJDAC is alleging that since at least 2005, Clearfield County has retained funds collected under Act 198 in the general fund totaling more than $246,000 and has failed to distribute any of the money to any person or entity to fund substance abuse treatment or prevention programs.

According to court documents, the county has maintained records of the collection of the Act 198 funds and the Clearfield County Controller, as the supervisor of the fiscal affairs of the county, has the power and duty to withhold the authorization for any county fiscal transaction when it appears that any such fiscal transaction has not been undertaken according to the law.

The CJDAC is maintaining that the controller had the duty and authority to investigate the circumstances related to a failure to act on the part of any county officer when that failure is due to fraud, abuse of public office, criminal conduct or negligence.

According to court documents, the CJDAC has previously “demanded” that the controller investigate the failure to make proper distribution of Act 198 funds, which is a violation of the statute.

The CJDAC alleges that to date, the controller has not investigated or otherwise inquired into Act 198 funding, and that the county’s 2015 budget includes appropriation of the Act 198 funds payable to the CJDAC.

According to the documents, the CJDAC is asking for the issuance of a Writ of Mandamus compelling the controller to undertake the proper investigation into the Act 198 funds and to take any additional action to remedy the alleged “improper fiscal transactions.”

A Writ of Mandamus is an order from a court to an inferior government official ordering that government official to properly fulfill their official duties or correct an abuse of discretion.

The position of Clearfield County Controller is presently held by Antonio Scotto. Scotto has held the office since 2009, when he was elected in place of incumbent Claudia Read, who had been the previous controller for 12 years.

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