Former Court Administrator Charged with Stealing Bail Money

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November 18, 2014: Today, the Philadelphia District Attorneys Office Public Corruption Task Force (PCTF) charged 42-year-old Steven Martorano, a former First Judicial District Bail Acceptance Unit Supervisor, with Theft, Receiving Stolen Property, and Tampering with Public Records for stealing over $150,000 in bail money from the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility (CFCF). Martorano turned himself in to PCTF detectives this afternoon and he is currently being processed by police.

Martorano’s arrest comes as a result of a lengthy Grand Jury investigation. Grand Jurors found that between September 17, 2010 and February 8, 2011, thirteen (13) bank deposit bags with bail money totaling $155,440.00 disappeared from the First Judicial District’s Bail Acceptance Unit located at the CFCF. Records related to those funds, specifically, Brinks logbooks and the manual bail binder-government records maintained by the First Judicial District -also disappeared. Extensive evidence presented to the Grand Jury established that Steven Martorano stole this money and intentionally and unlawfully removed and concealed those records.

The First Judicial District of Pennsylvania (FJD) collects bail from two different Bail Acceptance Unit locations. The main office of the Bail Acceptance Unit is located at the Criminal Justice Center (CJC). That bail office is in the basement and is operational twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. A satellite office, established in August of 2007, is located inside the CFCF.

The CFCF office is a small room that is accessible through a door inside the visitor lobby. That door is at all times kept locked, and the public is not permitted to enter the office. Bail transactions are conducted through a window between the office and the visitor lobby. During the subject time period, there was no surveillance equipment at the office, which operated, with some deviations, Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. After operation hours, the FJD employees could access the office at any time. The office is not within the secure perimeter of the prison. Therefore, FJD employees are not subjected to searches when they enter or leave the office. Keys to the office door are only given only to FJD employees. Prison officials and employees do not have keys to the doors or access to the office.

The bail acceptance units are staffed by full and part-time cashiers. It is the cashiers’ primary duty and responsibility to collect the money posted for bail, document the transactions, and deposit the money in a safe located within the bail office. The paramount duty of the supervisor is to conduct and document the process through which the money is collected from the safe and delivered to the Brinks messenger. At the end of their shifts, the cashiers count the money they collected, fill out a bank deposit slip, and place the slip, along with the money, into a deposit bag provided by Wells Fargo Bank. The deposit bags are of the heavy-duty, tamper-proof type, with a double seal, which prevents reopening. After sealing the bags, which are sequentially numbered and utilized in numerical order, the cashiers enter the bag number in their “cashier drawer”, and deposit the bag in the office safe.

The safe at the CFCF has a hopper on the top of it, which is a round cylinder with a slit on the top. The cashiers deposit the bag into that cylinder and crank the handle. The bank deposit bag rolls over and drops into the safe. The cashiers are not supposed to have the combination to the safe and cannot retrieve the bag once it is tumbled. Policy of the bail acceptance unit dictates that the cashiers should always seal their bags before tumbling them in the safe. Martorano, despite being thoroughly trained in these policies, regularly instructed his cashiers not to seal their bags when there was a problem detected with their work for that day, such as a discrepancy between their count of the money, and the total amount indicated in their computerized “drawer”. Martorano told the cashiers to wrap a rubber band around the bag and its contents, claiming he would recount the money and try to resolve their issues for them. No other bail acceptance supervisor instructed their cashiers to tumble unsealed bags into the safe.

Martorano was the sole supervisor in charge of the Bail Acceptance Unit at the CFCF, and was trained in the protocol for the handling of the bags of money. Prior to May of 2010, Martorano was responsible for transporting the bail money to the bank in the northeast section of the city or the CJC in center city. On a couple of occasions, Martorano was observed with the money deposit bags inside his home in South Philadelphia, located in the 3200 block of Chaucer Street , which was not on the route from the CFCF to the bank or to the CJC. Martorano was never, under any circumstances, authorized to take the money anywhere other than the bank or the CJC. Further, there was no legitimate reason for Martorano to bring money home, or to perform any tasks concerning the money outside the secure confines of the CFCF bail office, which was accessible to him 24 hours a day seven (7) days a week.

In May of 2010, Brinks began rendering services at CFCF. In preparation for the Brinks pickup at CFCF, Martorano was supposed to open the safe, remove the bank deposit bags and line them up in numerical order. It was his duty to ensure that all of the bags were present. If the bank deposit bags were not sequential it would be a signal to him that there was a possibility of a missing deposit bag. He was required to resolve this problem immediately by stopping all activity in the Bail Acceptance office, contacting his immediate supervisor, and searching thoroughly until the bag was found. Once all the bags were accounted for, Martorano was required to fill out the Brinks logbook by documenting each bank deposit bag that he turned over to Brinks, and the amount of money that the bag contained. The last step in the process was to present the money bags to the Brinks messenger, who would verify their receipt by signing off on the Brinks logbook that Martorano prepared. Martorano should have then secured the logbook somewhere inside the CFCF bail office. During the subject theft period, Martorano never reported any problems with missing bags to his superiors.

In March of 2010 the Clerk of Quarter Sessions, responsible for the accounting of the collected bail money was dissolved. It was well known, and even documented in the local newspapers, that the Clerk of Quarter Sessions was lax in its financial management. The First Judicial District was now tasked with the responsibility of performing the bank reconciliations for the Bail Acceptance Unit. In December of 2010 they began the process. On February 8, 2011, the FJD Deputy Court Administrator in charge of Financial Services called a meeting with his accounting staff and all Bail Acceptance Unit supervisory personnel. In attendance was Martorano. At the meeting it was discussed that the reconciliations were behind and that new accounting procedures were going to be put in place. It was mandated that the same group would meet weekly until the accounts at the bail acceptance unit (both locations) were reconciled and up to date. Martorano was requested to provide the accounting staff the CFCF Brinks logbooks and manual bail binder. Martorano never attended any future meetings nor did he provide the logbooks and bail binder. Instead, on February 22, 2011, he suddenly and unexpectedly resigned from his job after ten years of employment with the FJD. The logbooks and bail binder disappeared as well.
Based on their reconciliation findings, as well as an internal audit and preliminary investigation, the FJD determined that between September 2010 and February 8, 2011, thirteen bank deposit bags totaling $155, 440 from the bail acceptance unit at CFCF were never picked up by Brinks nor deposited into the FJD bank account. No thefts have occurred since Martorano’s resignation. The matter was referred to the District Attorney’s Office for investigation.

Martorano owned various businesses while he was employed with the FJD: a helicopter business, operating under the names of Bella Choppers and Independence Helicopter; a pizza shop, Is-A-Bella Pizza; and a company called Bella Investment Properties. None of his businesses have been profitable. Martorano kept separate bank accounts for himself, his daughter and his businesses. During the period of the subject thefts, from September 2010 through February 2011, when Martorano had unfettered access to the cash at the bail acceptance unit at CFCF, Martorano made a total of $131,908 in cash deposits into those accounts. During the same time period a year later, September 2011 through February 2012, when he was no longer employed by the FJD, the cash deposits into those same accounts dropped precipitously, to a total of $27,796. Thus, Martorano deposited $104,112 more during the theft period.

Members of the Grand Jury determined that Martorano routinely flouted the rules and violated the protocols concerning the bail money, as demonstrated by his engaging in activities such as: taking the money bags home; instructing the cashiers to place unsealed bags in the safe; and commanding a subordinate to deliver only some of the bags to Brinks for pickup. That conduct, coupled with his unfettered access to the cash, foreshadowed and was consistent with Martorano’s theft of the deposit bags. The lax oversight by the Clerk of Quarter Sessions, as evidenced by Martorano’s statement to an employee he supervised that “nobody questioned” him, provided the opportunity for his thefts, and his precarious financial state stands as a motive.

RECOMMENDATION OF CHARGES

Based upon the evidence in this case members of the 26th Philadelphia County Investigating Grand Jury recommend that Steven R. Martorano be charged with the following offenses:

Theft by Unlawful Taking (F-3) – 13 counts
Receiving Stolen Property (F-3) – 13 counts
Tampering with Public Records or Information (F-3) – 3 counts