Feds take over Sheriff's Office probe

CENTER CITY - November 16, 2011

"I think that he completely let down the people," Butkovitz told Action News.

That was the stinging assessment Wednesday of former longtime sheriff John Green, by the city's top financial watchdog. Alan Butkovitz endorsed Green numerous times.

So why the change? It was a lengthy forensic audit, the first ever conducted by the city. In short, it says, the Sheriff's Office, under John Green's leadership, ripped people off. It was a case of fraud that looted the city's most destitute.

The audit, which we first reported last week, has now been turned over to the U.S. Attorney. It details what auditors call a corrupt and chaotic system of accounting, and what could be numerous criminal acts.

Among the targets, Tyrone Bynum, who as we first told you, was the sheriff's chief financial officer. As the investigation alleges, he intercepted foreclosed homes scheduled to be sold at Sheriff's sales, buying them before the public could bid them up, then selling them for big profits.

The audit further details how personal relationships led to million-dollar profits.

One organization, Reach Communications, was contracted to advertise sheriff's sales. The owner of Reach? James Davis, whom Green once called a part of his inner circle, and whose sister ran the sheriff's Real Estate division. Davis' company, the audit says, was paid $206 million by the sheriff's office over a 5-year period.

What's more, the woman whose name appears on the sheriff's contract with Reach, says she never signed it.

All that, Butkovitz says, is reason for further investigation by those with the power to bring charges.

Our efforts to contact Sheriff Green were unsuccessful. But Controller Butkovitz says he did cooperate with the forensic audit, a stark contrast from the stone-walling auditors say Green first put up.

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