Michael Untermeyer announces run for Sheriff's office, looks to unseat sitting Sheriff Rochelle Bilal
The attorney and advocate looks to overhaul and transform what he calls a “scandal-ridden Sheriff’s Office.
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Attorney and humanitarian Michael Untermeyer announced his candidacy for Philadelphia Sheriff on Tuesday, March 7 outside of 100 South Broad Street.
The longtime attorney and advocate is looking to reform what he called a “scandal-ridden Sheriff’s Office” under the first term of Rochelle Bilal.
He was joined by advocates Aleida Garcia, Roz Pichardo, Alma Rios, Yullio Robins, Reverend L. West and Crystal Arthur, who spoke about Sheriff Bilal’s tenure.
“For decades, this office has had nothing but corruption, misappropriation of funds, scandal, scandal, and scandal. Politicians have used this office for their own personal benefit,” he said.
Untermeyer dedicates an entire page on his campaign website to Bilal’s scandals, where he offers an interactive display of the eight scandals that Untermeyer says have cost taxpayers more than $1,000,000.
“Sheriff Bilal has failed. The most important function of this office is to protect lives and protect property. Sheriff Bilal has made the city less safe by her inactions,” said Untermeyer.
Untermeyer has over 24 years of experience in law enforcement, criminal justice, and public service that he says make him the ideal candidate.
“I have all the skills and credentials necessary to come into this office and make a significant change. We have to restore the office to a place where there really is leadership, where there's transparency, where there's accountability, when you have somebody who really wants to serve the public, and not serve themselves,” he said.
This includes 11 years in the Attorney General’s Office as the Senior Deputy Attorney General where he headed up the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the Philadelphia Regional Office’s Drug Law Division.
He also served as Special Counsel for the Office of Inspector General and served for four years as Assistant District Attorney where he was one of the first attorneys assigned to the newly-formed Domestic Violence Unit.
Also on his website is a 15-point plan to transform the Sheriff’s Office that lays out some day one plans.
Prioritizing Public Safety and Restoring Ethics and Integrity
He would increase personnel and resources to the Sheriff’s Warrant Unit to reduce the reported 33,000 active bench warrants in the Sheriff’s Office and implement an inventory system to track all the firearms in the armory in the Office. He’d also implement methods and rules for transparency of all of the Sheriff’s records on the public safety and the administrative side of the Office.
Utermeyer also said he would enforce a strict policy of not permitting attorneys or undersheriffs to have any unethical legal practice employment that conflicts with their employment at the Sheriff’s Office and prevent all potential conflicts for Sheriff’s employees through new employee policies and procedures.
He wants to end political hires of unqualified employees, specifically for positions of the Undersheriff/Chief Legal Advisor, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief of Human Relations.
Focused Accountability and Transparency
The 15-point plan continues with the implementation of a new General Accounting System for tracking all financial accounts and keeping record of all transactions. Utermeyer said he would also implement quarterly public disclosures.
He wants to complete record-keeping procedures to account for fees received by and payments by the Sheriff’s Office for full compliance with all recommendations in the Controller’s Performance Audit of the Sheriff’s Custodial Accounts and turn all monies owed to the city from Sheriff’s Custodial Accounts to the city on a timely basis.
Untermeyer will end secret off-budget and unauthorized spending from Sheriff’s Custodial Accounts and end all slush fund practices, arbitrary and unnecessary advertising practices and find less costly solutions for the mandatory public advertising of Sheriff’s sales.
He wants to end all spending of any money outside of the City’s Budget process and making any purchases without the approval of the City Law Department and the City Controller’s Office.
He’ll look to terminate and renegotiate the Sheriff’s six-year contract with Bid4Assets in which a 10% commission is paid to Bid4Assets, and create a new contract where individuals can bid in person as well as bid online for properties being sold as foreclosures or tax sales.
Utermeyer also wants to comply with the city’s procurement policies for purchases made with custodial accounts and enforce a strict policy of not using Sheriff’s funds to pay for unethical parties for Sheriff’s employees.
The Democratic primary is on May 16, 2023.
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