July 07, 2011
DiNapoli: Former Pitcairn Supervisor Improperly Spent $35,622 of Town Money
Case Forwarded to St. Lawrence County District Attorney
Former Pitcairn Supervisor Susan M. Smith issued unauthorized checks for $35,622, altered bank statements and kept shoddy records, according to an audit by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. DiNapoli's office forwarded its findings to the St. Lawrence County District Attorney's Office for review of potential criminal activity.
DiNapoli's audit concluded that the Town Board gave Smith complete control over checks and bank statements as she spent the $35,622 in a one-year period. This included 13 checks to herself for $11,254 and 13 checks for $20,921 payable to the town bank – where Smith herself was the branch manager. Smith also issued eight checks worth $3,447 to "vendors" for whom there was no record of a claim.
"It appears that no one kept an eye on this town's money except the former supervisor, who apparently squandered nearly 10 percent of annual town expenditures," DiNapoli said. "The taxpayers deserve better control. The Town Board is taking steps to strengthen its oversight but this never should have happened in the first place."
DiNapoli urged the town to take steps to recover any unauthorized payments.
Allowing Smith to oversee town money while managing the town's bank branch posed a conflict of interest, the report states. Town officials said they allowed Smith to do both because the next nearest bank is 15 miles away. Pitcairn, in St. Lawrence County, has 780 residents and reported $411,942 in expenditures for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2009.
DiNapoli encourages the public to help fight fraud and abuse. New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud, corruption or abuse of taxpayer money by calling the toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-888-672-4555, by filing a complaint online at email@example.com, or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Investigations Unit, 14th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.
Click here for a copy of the audit or visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/towns/2011/pitcairn.pdf