Hevesi Audit Finds Two Former Voorheesville School
District Administrators Improperly Paid Themselves $216,000
District Aggressively Taking Steps to Recover Money;
Findings Referred to Albany County District Attorney’s
The former Voorheesville school district superintendent and assistant
superintendent inappropriately paid themselves $216,000 for leave
and other employment benefits, New York State Comptroller Alan G.
Hevesi said today. Voorheesville district officials announced today
that they have filed a civil lawsuit based on the Comptroller’s
findings to recover the funds. The Comptroller’s audit findings,
as well as the results of the district’s own investigation,
have been referred to District Attorney David Soares for review as
a possible criminal matter.
During a routine audit of district finances, auditors found:
- Questionable payments to former Superintendent Alan McCartney
for $127,338 from August 1989 to July 2005 and to former Assistant
Superintendent for Business Anthony Marturano totaling $89,069 from
January 1991 to August 2002.
- Of the $216,000 identified, $167,000 of the payments were for
benefits that they were not entitled to, including payments when
the administrators appeared to be traveling for personal reasons
in Las Vegas, Chicago and Nashville, and an instance when the former
superintendent gave himself compensatory time for showing up on
a snow day, when all other business office employees are either
required to work or take vacation time. The remaining $49,000 was
paid without proper notification or documentation or were made under
inappropriate clauses in their employment contracts.
- The two officials authorized virtually all of these payments to
themselves without the knowledge or approval of the board of education.
Auditors notified the district of their preliminary findings, and
the district immediately began its own investigation. Based on these
findings, the district began efforts to recover the misappropriated
funds. The audit, which began in late August 2005, is expected to
be complete in summer 2006.
“This was blatant abuse of taxpayer dollars and manipulation
of weak internal controls by two individuals at the top who were entrusted
to safeguard these funds. Their actions are deplorable and resulted
in a considerable financial loss for the school district,” Hevesi
said. “I’m pleased that the
Voorheesville school board has taken action to ensure that this money
is recovered and has pledged to institute meaningful changes to
improve oversight of senior officials in the future.”
Voorheesville Board of Education President Joseph F. Pofit, who became
President in July 2005, said “The Board is outraged that former
officials would purposefully manipulate people and internal controls
in order to enrich themselves. The board and the current administration
are unified in their commitment to pursue whatever actions are necessary
with impeccable integrity. We are appreciative of the professional
working relationship with the Comptroller’s Office and are determined
to redress this breach of the community’s trust.”
Among the $216,000 identified:
- Overpayments for Unused Vacation Time. The
two men’s contracts limit how much they can be paid for vacation
time they did not use. The superintendent was paid $84,283 more
than his contract allowed, and the assistant superintendent was
paid $35,968 more than allowed.
- Failure to Charge Vacation Time for Time Out of the Office. One
way they built up unused vacation time was by taking days off, but
not listing them as vacation days. That way they would receive regular
pay for a day not worked, and also request payment for a vacation
day not used, in effect getting paid twice for one day not worked.
After reviewing district cell phone records, auditors found that
McCartney (or his district-issued cell phone) was out of town at
least 16 days on nine separate occasions, including in Las Vegas
and Boston, when he did not charge leave time or have approval to
be out of town for district business. The superintendent collected
$7,435 in salary for these days. In addition, calls were made from
Marturano’s district-issued cell phone from Chicago and Nashville
on one day, but he did not charge time nor was he approved to travel
for school business. He was paid $372 for this time.
- Unauthorized Leave Benefits. McCartney
and Marturano both claimed reimbursement for compensatory time that
was not permitted under their employment contracts. For example,
on snow days when schools are closed, the central office remains
open and employees are required to work unless otherwise directed.
McCartney worked on a snow day and then claimed reimbursement for
comp time, thus receiving two days pay for one day of work. The
cash value for this comp time was $7,268 for McCartney and $7,482
- Inappropriate Stipend and Personal Leave Payments. $20,000
was paid to Marturano for unused sick time for his final three years
of employment, on the condition that he retire by a set date or
repay the money. He failed to retire within the required time period,
but did not repay the money. McCartney’s employment contract
no longer provided him with personal leave, but he still charged
$4,397 worth of personal leave time.
- Failure to Notify Board about Taking Pay for Unused Vacation
Payments. Another $19,455 in unused vacation time
was improperly cashed out by the superintendent, and $17,610 was
paid to the assistant superintendent. McCartney generally sent
his payment requests directly to the payroll clerk, who processed
the papers. McCartney then approved the payrolls containing his
own leave payments. Marturano generally made his requests to McCartney,
who approved them. While these payments were allowed under their
contracts, they were required under their employment contracts
to report these payments to the board and they failed to do so.
If the board had knowledge of these payments, they could have
played a role in subsequent contract negotiations
- Improper Employment Contract Provision. $4,500
was paid to the superintendent for annuity and disability insurance
benefits that were not permitted under the State Education Law.
- Reimbursement for Undocumented Claims. Marturano
was allowed to receive reimbursement for money he paid out for annuity
and disability insurance benefits, but he was required to document
those expenses. He received a $7,637 reimbursement from the
district even though he did not submit documentation showing he
made the required payments.
Based on the State auditors preliminary findings and the district’s
own independent investigation, the board through legal counsel in
December 2005 sent letters to McCartney and Marturano seeking repayment
of funds with interest. No payment has been received, so the board
today filed a civil lawsuit to recover the funds. District officials
will meet this week with the District Attorney’s Office. In
addition, the board has conducted a comprehensive review of internal
controls over benefits provided to employees. For example, the district
now requires its audit committee to monitor the superintendent’s
attendance and leave usage.
Auditors’ recommended that the district continue to aggressively
pursue collection of these payments. In addition, the district’s
audit committee should develop written procedures detailing how it
will monitor administrative leave benefits, which should also be adopted
by the board. The current superintendent should ensure that all leave
benefits provided to employees are in compliance with employment contracts
and board policies. Finally, auditors recommended that the district’s
attorney review any written employment contract prior to approving
McCartney, who worked at the district for 16 years, was paid $141,400
for the 2004-05 fiscal year, his final year. His health insurance
benefits were fully covered by the district, and he received 35 days
of vacation, 15 days of sick leave and a $1,500 reimbursement for
annuities or disability insurance. An 11-year employee at the district,
Marturano was paid $95,967 during the 2001-02 fiscal year, his final
year. Ninety percent of his health insurance benefits were covered
by the district, and he received 30 days of vacation, 15 days of sick
leave and a $1,500 reimbursement for annuities or disability insurance.
All school districts, BOCES and charter schools must be audited by
the State Comptroller’s office in the next five years under
a new State law passed after financial scandals erupted at several
Long Island school districts. Voorheesville is one of the first upstate
schools to be audited as part of this effort. Sixteen other school
audits are underway or will be soon in the Capital Region, including:
Berlin, Berne-Knox-Westerlo, Broadalbin-Perth, Canajoharie, Corinth,
Galway, Hoosic Valley, Jefferson, Niskayuna, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk,
Schalmont, Schuylerville, Scotia-Glenville, Stillwater and Troy.
The Voorheesville school district, with 1,270 students and approximately
235 staff, has a budget this year of $19.3 million and operates two
Click here for a copy of the audit report.
Click here for a listing of school
Click here for the Five-Point School
Financial Accountability Plan