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April 01, 2011

 

Former Otisville Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Town Funds


The former Otisville treasurer will serve up to three years in jail and reimburse the village $77,000 after pleading guilty today in Orange County Court to grand larceny following an investigation by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the New York State Police and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Barbara McDowell is scheduled to be sentenced on June 10.

“McDowell took advantage of the trust of her fellow village residents to line her own pockets,” DiNapoli said. “I want to thank the State Police and Orange County District Attorney Frank Phillips for their assistance in retrieving the thousands of public dollars stolen during McDowell’s tenure.”

Investigators determined McDowell misappropriated village funds over a six-year period by writing at least 30 unauthorized checks to herself, including extra payroll and health benefit waiver checks. McDowell attempted to conceal her theft through poor record-keeping and falsifying records.

DiNapoli’s office was alerted by Otisville Mayor Brian Wona after his office discovered that the village’s bank accounts were nearly depleted and requested an examination. In addition to the findings against McDowell, the subsequent audit detailed the lack of adequate internal controls and inadequate policies and procedures in Otisville.

The Comptroller’s office identified irregularities in Otisville’s financial records management as far back as 1999. Subsequent audits in 2002 and 2006 recommended several corrective actions, which were never followed.  After the Comptroller’s 2010 audit, the village and mayor committed to adopting policies and procedures to address these issues.  

A copy of the audit can be found at; http://osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/villages/2010/otisville.pdf

DiNapoli encourages the public to help fight against fraud and abuse.  New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud, corruption and abuse of taxpayer money by: calling the Comptroller’s toll-free fraud hotline at 1-888-672-4555; filing a complaint online at investigations@osc.state.ny.us, or mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller Investigations Unit, 110 State Street, 14th floor, Albany, NY 12236.


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