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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Press Releases

August 12, 2014, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

DiNapoli: Audit Shows Former Highway Superintendent Took Taxpayers for a Ride in Town of Erin

The former highway superintendent for the Town of Erin in Chemung County made personal purchases and used gas, oil and other town supplies for his own use, totaling nearly $70,000, according to an audit detailing the fraud released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

In October 2013, the former Superintendent Roger Burlew was arrested and charged with one count of grand larceny in the second degree, a class C felony, and four counts of offering a false instrument for filing, a class E felony. The arrest was the result of a Joint Task Force on Public Integrity investigation, a collaborative effort to combat public corruption at all levels of government, by DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Burlew’s criminal case is pending. 

“Burlew used the town as his own personal parts and repair shop,”DiNapoli said. “Our report shows the extent of his alleged theft and his efforts to cover his tracks. Burlew betrayed taxpayers' trust by apparently using his office for his personal benefit. I want to thank Attorney General Schneiderman and his staff for their diligent work. We will continue to work with them to root out corruption in state and local government.”

“Elected officials who steal from the hardworking New Yorkers who put them in office is a reprehensible abuse of power, and undermines trust in government as a whole. I will keep fighting to ensure that hard-earned taxpayer dollars are kept out of the pockets of corrupt public servants,”said Attorney General Schneiderman. “I want to thank Comptroller DiNapoli for partnering with us to help weed out corruption and fraud in local governments across the state.”

Auditors and investigators found from January 2007 through September 2013, Burlew submitted at least 178 fraudulent vouchers to the town without detection, totaling $68,501. Burlew attached the invoices for these personal purchases to town vouchers to make it appear that the items were bought for highway department use. The audit revealed that in some instances he purchased parts for equipment that the town did not even own such as forklift tires, an engine block and turbo, and 10 bundles of 10 reciprocating saw blades.

DiNapoli’s audit revealed the fraud went undetected because the town board did not establish an adequate system of internal controls over department purchases, including adopting a procurement policy or providing an adequate review of department claims prior to approving them for payment.

Moving forward, the Comptroller recommended the town:

  • Adopt a system of internal controls over department operations, a procurement policy and conduct a proper audit of claims prior to approving them for payment;
  • Seek reimbursement for the improper purchases made by the superintendent; and
  • Maintain complete, accurate and up-to-date maintenance and inventory records that are periodically reconciled and promptly investigate and resolve any differences.

Town officials agreed with the audit findings and indicated they have taken action to correct the financial and purchasing problems. The town’s response is included in the audit. For a copy of the audit, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/towns/2014/erin.htm. Photos of some of the equipment in question were included in the audit.

Comptroller DiNapoli and Attorney General Schneiderman’s Joint Task Force works to root out corruption across the state and has resulted in, among other matters, the felony conviction of former State Senator Shirley Hurley, the convictions of principles of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty for a multi-million dollar scam spanning two decades, and the ongoing prosecutions of former Halfmoon Town Supervisor Melinda Wormuth and New York City Councilman Ruben Wills.

DiNapoli encourages the public to help fight fraud and abuse. New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud involving taxpayer money by calling the toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-888-672-4555, by filing a complaint online at investigations@osc.state.ny.us, or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 14th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.

 

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