Stories have changed at Southold Town Hall in the weeks since news broke that a senior court clerk had stolen in excess of $50,000 in bail funds over the past several years.
The blame for not catching the alleged theft was initially directed by Supervisor Scott Russell at the New York State Office of Court Administration, which he said audited those funds annually. We now know that to be inaccurate. As it turns out, the town’s own external auditors have found some procedural irregularities within the justice court in recent years.
It now appears that the blame for a lack of oversight falls on the justices themselves.
A complete audit of the town court is now pending. And the criminal investigation by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office continues.
But when the dust settles, the current leadership at Southold Town Hall — in particular, Mr. Russell and justices Rudolph Bruer and William Price — needs to answer to whatever else is uncovered.
Top-to-bottom accountability and reform will likely be in order.