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Inmates’ Money Stolen in Montgomery County

Jan 18th, 2010 | Category: Conditions in County Jails, Montgomery County

by Stephen Dean, October 20, 2009 PM Houston Examiner 

A routine audit turned up some $70,000 in missing money at the Montgomery County Jail, and now an employee is charged with the inside job.

A Montgomery County grand jury has indicted Phyllis Ann Traylor, 51 of Conroe on a felony count of Theft by a Public Servant.

When Texas Rangers started investigating this case months ago, it was reported on this Examiner page while the local newspapers completely avoided the story.

The indictment spells out that Traylor, “did then and there unlawfully appropriate property of the value of at least $20,000 but less than $100,000, to-wit:  money, with intent to deprive the Montgomery County Inmate Trust Fund.”

The indictment spells out that she swiped the money as part of a continuing scheme that started around January 6, 2007 and continued until November 14, 2008.

Sheriff Tommy Gage said the missing money was discovered when a new vendor was brought in to manage the inmate commissary program.

The prior vendor, Airmark, was being replaced and Gage said his staff began examining the accounts and said, “Where is this money?”

The inmate trust fund bank account pools all inmate money into one lump sum, which made it more difficult to realize money was missing.

An electronic kiosk now sits in the lobby of the Montgomery County Jail, allowing families to deposit money into their loved one’s account.   It also keeps better tabs on the cash, according to the Sheriff.  This new system from a new vendor was put in place shortly after the missing money was discovered.

First, an accounting pinpointed the $70,000 in stolen money and then Texas Rangers started investigating to find out who had access to the accounts.   Traylor was quickly taken off the job as the investigation started.

She was booked into the jail where she had worked for the past few years, and she posted a $70,000 bail.  Her next court date is set for November 19, 2009.    If she’s found guilty, it could mean a 10-year prison term.

Traylor has pleaded not guilty.

 

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