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July 17, 2013

 

DiNapoli: Lax Board Oversight Allowed Former Village of Old Field Treasurer to Steal Nearly $60,000

Poor oversight by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Old Field allowed its former Treasurer Andrea Brosnan to steal nearly $60,000 in village funds without detection, according to an audit released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The findings of the audit were shared with Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota whose office charged Brosnan with second-degree grand larceny, first-degree falsifying business records, defrauding the government and official misconduct on May 22.  Criminal proceedings are pending. 

“The Village of Old Field learned a powerful lesson about what can happen when no one minds the store,” DiNapoli said. “The former treasurer controlled all the financial levers of this village and went on a spending spree, going as far as boosting her own pay. I applaud Suffolk County District Attorney Spota and his team for taking immediate action and holding this wrongdoer accountable for her actions. It is critical that Old Field officials take steps to ensure this never occurs again.” 

“The defendant forged the Mayor’s signature on checks, she paid her personal utilities with money from village accounts, she bought merchandise with taxpayer dollars from Amazon and other firms that sell furniture, housewares and apparel, and she applied for and obtained unauthorized gas cards which she used to buy herself fuel, cigarettes, and food,” Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said. “The lesson of State Comptroller DiNapoli’s thorough review is simple. Inattention is expensive.” 

The audit examined the board’s oversight of village financial activities and the treasurer’s duties for the period January 1, 2009 to July 31, 2012. More than $46,000 in inappropriate cash disbursements and $13,000 in inappropriate payroll payments were made. 

Auditors and investigators found the former treasurer falsified the signature of the mayor and deputy mayor and inappropriately cashed 36 petty cash checks, which she issued, of which $11,484 was misappropriated. In one case reviewed by the auditors, a check for $399 cashed by the former treasurer was supported by eight original receipts totaling $303 for postage related to mail packages sent to France; Portland, Oregon; and Costa Rica.   

Additionally, 37 electronic disbursements totaling $11,596 were made from the village’s checking account to seven vendors who did not do business with the village. Though the former treasurer was the only individual with access to the accounting records, she claimed to not know who made or recorded the payments.   

Auditors also found that the former treasurer:

  • Used two gasoline cards, the existence of which village officials were not aware, for questionable expenditures totaling $11,348.
  • Made 46 payments totaling $7,432 to an office supply company that were either unsupported or unrelated to village business. Purchases included packaged food, laundry supplies, a digital camera and DVD’s of children’s movies. Forty-one of the 46 payments had a “ship to” address of the former treasurer’s home. 
  • Made 15 payments totaling $3,404 to a mail-order catalog company for purchases that included an air mattress, children’s clothing, cookbooks and Yankees paraphernalia. 

The former treasurer was able to make and conceal 58 improper payments to herself totaling $12,862 for 607 hours not worked because the village allowed her to do all aspects of the payroll process.  The village allowed the former treasurer to do both bank reconciliations and maintain custody of its bank accounts.  As a result, it went undetected that 30 of 86 bank reconciliations did not balance and ten of the bank statements were altered to conceal improper payments through whiting out or missing sections.   

The board did not perform any audits of the former treasurer’s financial records in 2011 or 2012. In addition, it did not receive complete, accurate and current financial information from the former or current treasurers.   Without timely and accurate financial information, the board is unable to adequately monitor and manage village operations.   

DiNapoli’s office recommended more than a dozen steps the village must take to regain control of its finances. The village generally agreed with the findings, and its response is included in the audit. 

To view the full audit report, click here: 
http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/villages/2013/oldfield.htm 
  
Anyone with additional information on this matter or any other public corruption is encouraged to contact the Comptroller’s office by dialing the 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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