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Four people charged with defrauding the Sheriff's Office

Former accounting department employee accused of writing unauthorized checks.

Four people have been charged in an alleged scheme to defraud the Philadelphia Sheriff's Office of more than a half-million dollars.

Authorities claim that Richard Bell, who worked in the accounting department of the Sheriff's Office, wrote checks to unauthorized people and companies between 2007 and 2010 and then divided the proceeds.

Bell allegedly forwarded more than $400,000 in checks made out to Robert Rogers, which Rogers cashed. Bell also sent another $147,000 in checks to a company run by Jackiem Wright and Reginald Berry, which they cashed or attempted to cash, authorities said.

Additionally, Bell is accused of helping someone purchase a property for only ten percent of the bid price by taking a check for the other 90 percent that had been sent to the Sheriff's Office before it was cashed. Bell allegedly charged and received a fee from the purchaser.

Bell, Rogers, Wright and Berry are all charged with one count of wire fraud, and Bell is also charged with willfully filing a false income tax return.

If convicted, Bell could face between 2 and 1/2 and 3 and 1/2 years in jail.

Last week, City Controller Alan Butkovitz released a forensic audit of retired Sheriff John Green's office, showing possible fraud involving two employees and millions in overpayments to two related firms. The findings have been forwarded to the U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, but no charges have been filed related to the report.