Probe: Victim services agency ‘sorely lacking’ in oversight
Scrutiny of claims stepped up in wake of Schenectady woman's arrest
Updated 10:24 p.m.
ALBANY A state investigation that started with misconduct by an employee from Schenectady has resulted in tighter financial controls at the state Office of Victim Services, the state inspector general’s office said Friday.
The inspector general found that procedures at the Office of Victim Services were “grossly inadequate,” including a lack of oversight by supervisors or agency counsel.
The Office of Victim Services now has put in place strengthened procedures to review and scrutinize claims, the inspector general’s office said.
The investigation began when officials determined that Miriam Brown, 52, of Schenectady, helped her sister get a $500 payment as a property loss crime victim.
Brown, an agency service representative, altered a police report so it would match the January 2011 claim filed by her sister. Brown also made false entries into Office of Victim Services records to cover her actions and violated agency procedures by actively assisting in filling out a claim, officials said. Brown was arrested and prosecuted.
Details of that prosecution were not immediately available Friday. She resigned and paid restitution.
The inspector general’s office then investigated and found that such claims weren’t reviewed as a matter of practice.
“Adequate review of these claims was sorely lacking,” Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott said. “A proper and thorough analysis could have detected and prevented the false and questionable claims filed.”