BENTON -- Both victims and defendants in Scott County who have participated in the court's restitution system may have unclaimed money waiting for them.
Restitution is an important part of the justice system, according to Paul Boyd, Scott County's prosecuting attorney since Jan. 1, 2003. "As of last Friday, we've sent out over $482,000 in restitution since I've taken office," he said.
Boyd's office is now trying to contact the rightful owners of about $13,439 in restitution funds that have been sitting in the account.
"We're trying to clear up the old restitution balances," Boyd said. "It takes a lot effort to clear this up. We're doing what we can now with the manpower we have to address this issue."
The old restitution balances consist of "money left in the restitution accounts that, for whatever reason, has not been paid out to the victim or the defendant if there was an overpayment," Boyd explained.
There are several reasons why this money can remain unclaimed.
"We send out letters to the victims of the crimes and let them know we have money for them," Boyd said. "Many times, the lack of a good address is the reason the money sat in the account."
A computer file of the list can be dowloaded from the prosecutor's Web page at www.scottcountymo.com by clicking the link "Click here for Unclaimed and Overpaid Restitution List" located below his photograph and just above the mission statement.
Area residents and businesses that have been victims of a crime in the past are encouraged to look over the list to see if any of the money is theirs to claim.
"The victims will need to contact the prosecutor's office in person or through a business agent so that we can verify the individual's identity prior to having a check sent to the individual," Boyd said.
The list of restitution balances also includes entries in which a defendant has overpaid. "The defendant in that case will need to contact the prosecutor's office so that we can verify their identity prior to having a check sent to the individual as reimbursement," Boyd said.
Since taking office, Boyd and his staff have made efforts to return restitution funds to their owners.
"In 2003, we inherited roughly a $65,000 restitution account balance," Boyd recalled, "and we have brought that old amount down to about $31,000."
Boyd said 1997-1998 was the last time he recalls seeing a list of unclaimed restitution funds provided by the Scott County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
Boyd's office started this effort around Sept. 25 and has posted the list on the county Web site and attempts to keep the list updated.
After 40-60 days, his office will turn the money over to the state treasurer's unclaimed property fund, Boyd said.
Once the money is turned over to the state treasurer's office, "they'll have to contact the state treasurer's office for any future refunds," Boyd said. "They hang onto it for a certain period of time."
Information on funds turned over to the state treasurer's unclaimed property fund can be found on the treasurer's unclaimed property Web site, according to Boyd.