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April 7, 2010

DiNapoli: Audit of Alden Town Clerk
Unveils Fraudulent Behavior

The former Alden Town Clerk admitted to tampering with town funds and pleaded guilty in Erie County Court after an audit by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli found that she failed to record approximately $12,400 in cash collected by the town and fraudulently used town funds to cash personal checks.

DiNapoli’s auditors referred the findings to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office. The former town clerk repaid the full $12,400 when she entered her plea. The report covered the period January 2005 through November 2009.

“It’s the town clerk’s job to protect taxpayer dollars, not steal them,” DiNapoli said. “Fortunately, our audit uncovered the theft in Alden. When public officials commit fraud, the taxpayers pay the price.”

DiNapoli’s auditors uncovered 457 checks, totaling approximately $14,300, that were inaccurately recorded by the town clerk’s office. Of the 457 checks identified, 400 checks were never recorded in town books and 57 other checks were recorded for less than the actual amount. As a result, auditors identified approximately $12,400 that was improperly diverted by the town clerk's office.

DiNapoli's audit also noted that town officials did not always adhere to competitive bidding requirements or to the town’s procurement policy. Auditors found that town officials made $112,000 in purchases without seeking competitive bids, contrary to state law, and made $41,762 in purchases without seeking out the best price, in violation of town policy.

To correct these deficiencies, DiNapoli recommended that town officials:

  • Accurately record and deposit all moneys collected in a timely manner;
  • Not use town funds to cash personal checks and ensure that the cash drawer isn’t vulnerable to theft; and
  • Follow state law and town policy when purchasing goods and services in an effort to save taxpayer dollars.

Town officials generally agreed with DiNapoli’s recommendations, and have already taken corrective action.

Click here for a copy of the report.


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