Former Clerk of Courts for Carbon County Charged with Theft

December 21, 2018 | Topic: Criminal

Official Stole More Than $43K in Bail Money, Fingerprint Fees

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that the former Carbon County Clerk of Courts is facing multiple charges of theft, receiving stolen property, tampering with public records and related crimes following an investigation by the Office of Attorney General after a referral by the Carbon County District Attorney.

“The blatant theft committed by this public official, coupled with his failure to properly account for these funds in the public record, has backlogged numerous criminal cases in which the defendants were entitled to receive their money back at the conclusion of their cases,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “His actions represent a significant breach of the public trust and his duties as an elected official.  This case is another example of my commitment to investigating and prosecuting public corruption wherever it is found, without fear and without favor.”

William McGinley, 60, of Lehighton, Carbon County, is accused of stealing more than $43,000 in bail money posted on criminal cases and fingerprint fees submitted to the Clerk of Courts office, typically by way of the Carbon County Prison.  As the Clerk of Courts, an elected position which McGinley held from 1990 until his unexpected retirement earlier this year, the defendant was responsible for collecting bail payments associated with criminal dockets and overseeing the Bureau of Collections, an entity that collects and disburses fines and other court-related fees.

In Carbon County, bail may be posted at the prison after normal courthouse hours.  Fingerprint fees may also collected at the prison.  Both bail and fingerprint money collected at the prison are hand delivered to the Clerk of Courts office the next business day.  Only McGinley or his first deputy were authorized to collect the hand-delivered money brought from the prison.  That money was then to be credited to the appropriate criminal docket and deposited in a bank account associated with the Clerk of Courts.

The investigation began in September 2016 after the Carbon County Controller discovered that $2,400 was listed in court records as having been received, but never deposited into the Clerk of Courts bank account.  McGinley could not account for the discrepancy and a forensic audit was initiated.  It was discovered that from September 2013 through March 2018, there were 169 cases in which fingerprint fees totaling $12,955 were collected at the prison, but those fees were never recorded or credited to the corresponding criminal dockets, nor were the funds deposited into the Clerk of Courts bank account.  Additionally, it was determined that from August 2014 through April 2018, bail was posted in 69 cases totaling $30,000 at the prison, but once again, the money was never recorded as received and it wasn’t deposited into the Clerk of Courts bank account.

McGinely’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 2, 2019.  The defendant was released on $50,000 unsecured bail.  The case will be prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Rebecca Elo.

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