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Bras, dresses and movies among items purchased with Washington County jail money report says

10:48 PM, Jan 16, 2013   |    comments
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MACHIAS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- An attorney's report has uncovered what could be thousands of dollars in questionable spending at the Washington County Jail. It found that staff there allegedly spent money on items like DVDs, cooking books and even lingerie using money that was supposed to be set aside for prisoners.

The report was put together by the 'Wheeler & Arey' law firm, which is based in Waterville, at the request of Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith.

Like all jails in Maine, Washington County's has an 'inmate benefit account.' The account is made up of funds collected from the sale of snacks and other items to prisoners at the jail's commissary.

In its guidelines, the Maine Department of Corrections asks that all funds in the account go to benefit inmates at the jail. Yet the report found in Washington County that hasn't been the case.

In the last year alone, workers there allegedly spent more than $7,000 on items that did not benefit prisoners. They included employee functions, new cell phones, cell phone bills and books for home-decorating and cooking.

The report details how on two occasions one worker was reimbursed $400 for clothing purchases, which included "a bridesmaid's dress...a Santa Baby novelty plunge bra, four sateen push-up plunge bras...a rosette-trim halter dress and an ankle length strapless dress."

When asked in an interview about the purchases, that employee, who remained nameless in the report, claimed "it was necessary for her to be dressed properly at work, and that her work directly benefited the inmates."

Last month Sheriff Smith suspended his jail administrator Robert Gross and the jail's clerk Karina Richardson. Neither them or any other workers were directly named in the report.

Commissioners in Washington County will be meeting on Thursday to discuss its findings.

NEWS CENTER

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