Beleaguered Philadelphia Sheriff John D. Green quits

John D. Green faces questions from the city controller about the Sheriff's Office's bank accounts.
John D. Green faces questions from the city controller about the Sheriff's Office's bank accounts.
Posted: January 04, 2011

Philadelphia Sheriff John D. Green has retired after 22 years in office, most of them complicated by city and state audit findings regarding millions in unaccountable taxpayer dollars.

He announced his resignation Monday, although it was effective the preceding Friday.

Green, 63, initially planned to leave the city payroll Oct. 31 and collect a $331,744 lump-sum payment from the city's Deferred Retirement Option Program, which he joined in 2007.

But on Oct. 27, he announced he would stay three to five months longer to work with City Controller Alan Butkovitz on an in-depth audit spurred by Butkovitz's questions last fall about the sheriff's bank accounts holding $53 million.

"The sooner this whole issue is put to bed, the sooner I can go on with my life," Green said at the time during a rare public appearance.

Green's resignation now means he is retiring before the beginning of that audit, for which Butkovitz is seeking to retain fraud specialists to scour the sheriff's financial books.

In a news release Monday, Green acknowledged he was leaving early, but he said he was comfortable doing so because he had "personally assured" his office's compliance with the records Butkovitz requested.

He also said he had initiated a "move to retain a highly regarded accounting firm to represent the interest of the Sheriff's Office."

He also expressed "complete confidence" in his staff and Chief Deputy Barbara Deeley.

The timing of Green's resignation also made it possible for Gov. Rendell, a Democrat, to nominate Deeley on Monday to succeed Green in office - before the arrival of Republican Gov.-elect Tom Corbett, who will be sworn in Jan. 18. If confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate, which reconvenes Tuesday, Deeley will become Philadelphia's first female sheriff.

"She understands the importance of security and timeliness in moving prisoners to and from court rooms, and she supports our well-established pledge of opening up the sheriff's sale process to all the people of this city," Green said. The Sheriff's Office also conducts real and personal property sales, and serves and exectues writs and warrants.

On Monday, Butkovitz said he would press on with his comprehensive forensic audit. He has requested proposals from accounting firms specializing in fraud detection, and those proposals are due on Friday.

"We are in the beginning stages of the forensic audit, and we hope and expect that Sheriff Deeley will cooperate with the Controller's Office, as Sheriff Green has since Nov. 1," Butkovitz said. "We hope that continues, because it's important for us to determine whether there was any misuse of funds from sheriff's sales and tax liens, in accounts that run into many millions of dollars."

In an initial controller's report, Green's staff failed to provide documentation related to $53 million in bank accounts. Butkovitz was also prompted to act by other findings, including that 5,300 deposits to Sheriff's Office accounts totaling $716 million could not be reconciled with bank statements or other records.

Deeley was unavailable for comment. But in a letter to Rendell thanking him for the nomination, she wrote: "I assure you that I will run the office with integrity, transparency, and efficiency."

As sheriff, Green managed one of the city's row offices, which operate independently of agencies controlled by the mayor. A city employee since 1969, he was paid $117,991 a year.

Besides his six-figure, one-time DROP payment, Green will soon begin collecting a yearly pension of $101,568.

Deeley is also in the DROP program and will receive a payment of $180,000 or so when she leaves. As chief deputy, she earned $94,360. Any increase in her salary would not change her pension, which was frozen when she joined DROP in February 2008.

Deeley has said she will not run for sheriff in the May primary. To date, three people have expressed interest in the job. They include State Rep. Jewell Williams, who has the backing of Green and the city's Democratic ward leaders; Rodney Little, president of the Fraternal Order of Housing Police; and John Kromer, a former city housing official and faculty member of the University of Pennsylvania's Fels Institute of Government who has vowed to help eliminate the Sheriff's Office as an independent agency.


Contact staff writer Marcia Gelbart at 215-854-2338 or mgelbart@phillynews.com.

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