State Watch

FBI to investigate nearly $700K stolen from Dallas County jail commissary fund


The FBI will take over an investigation after county auditor reports found nearly $700,000 was stolen from Dallas County jail inmate commissary accounts.

An employee at the jail was able to create debit cards linked to an inmate trust fund as a result of a loophole that has since been fixed with new intervention, according to The Dallas Morning News

The fund is made up of money from inmates’ loved ones that allows them to purchase meals and other items from the jail’s commissary. Upon their release, inmates are given their account’s remaining balance on a debit card.

County Auditor Darryl Thomas told the Morning News that the perpetrator in this instance was able to create duplicate debit cards for the same amount that the inmate had received to close out their commisary account. While the inmate would still be paid upon release, the system charged the county’s account two times.

The Morning News examined transactions between January 2015 and March 2021 and found that over 300 debit cards totaling almost $700,000 were issued from inmate’s closed accounts. 

“There are some criminal elements involved,” Sheriff Marian Brown said of the investigation that has since been passed on to the FBI, according to the Morning News. “We have been able to determine as far back as 2016 when instances were happening.”

The entire commissary fund was overdrawn by $85,000 in March 2020, which prompted the county’s audit. 

That audit also found that the system lacked procedures for damaged debit cards, supervision for money going in and out of the commissary fund or training for how to operate the account system, the Morning News reported. 

It also said clerks sometimes used the fund for other purposes like inmate transportation when the balance for another account intended to finance those operations was low. 

Previous audits had found problems with the system, but no changes were made, the Morning News also noted.

Though the recent investigation found that the stolen funds could have been discovered earlier, Thomas noted that typical audits do not check for instances of fraud.

“It was really searching for a needle in a haystack,” Thomas said to the Morning News. “Even though the dollar amounts are large, we had to figure out how did it transpire.”

In April, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department announced that it arrested and fired Umeka Myers, a former clerk. Myers was charged with property theft and released on $5,000 bail in April while she awaits trial. Myers’s arrest was related to this case but the department did not provide further detail. 

The Hill has reached out to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI for comment. 


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