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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Press Releases

June 3, 2015, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

Comptroller DiNapoli and A.G. Schneiderman Announce Sentencing of Former City of Rensselaer Department of Public Works Commissioner on Felony Charges For Stealing Scrap Metal Proceeds

Defendant Thomas Capuano Sentenced For Role In Stealing At Least $46,000 From The City’s Department Of Public Works By Pocketing Money From Sale of Scrap Metal

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the sentencing of Thomas Capuano, the former Commissioner of the Department of Public Works (DPW) of the city of Rensselaer, for his role in teaming with two DPW employees to divert $46,000 from the city by pocketing the cash from scrap metals acquired as part of their jobs with the city.

Mr. Capuano was sentenced to five years of probation by The Honorable Judge Andrew Ceresia  in Rensselaer County Court and must also repay one-third of the amount that was stolen. The other two thirds must be repaid by two co-defendants who previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced last month. Mr. Capuano’s sentencing follows his guilty plea to the charge of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (a Class E felony). Mr. Capuano admitted his role in selling the scrap metal for his personal benefit between 2009 and 2013.

“As Commissioner, Mr. Capuano was responsible for protecting city resources.  Instead, he used his position to enrich himself and foster his subordinates’ criminal conduct,” said Comptroller DiNapoli.  "My partnership with Attorney General Schneiderman will keep up the fight against fraud at all levels of government."

“Those who serve the public are entrusted with an important responsibility to serve honestly and to serve well,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Today’s sentencing brings a measure of accountability in this unfortunate case of theft and abuse, and I hope it sends a message that this type of official misconduct will not be tolerated.”

Thomas Capuano was the Commissioner of the Rensselaer Department of Public Works and the supervisor of two co-defendants, Ronald Foust and Jeffrey Clark. Surveillance videos from a local scrap yard showed Foust and Clark cashing in items discarded by city residents. Foust and Clark later implicated Capuano, their supervisor, in the scheme. Both Foust and Clark pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme and were sentenced

The Sanitation Division within the City’s Department of Public Works collects the city’s metals, including refrigerators, stoves, and copper coil that city residents leave on their curbs for home pick-up. The Sanitation Division then takes collected items to Rensselaer Iron, a scrap yard in Rensselaer County where the city has an account. In exchange, Rensselaer Iron writes a check to the city for the value of the metal turned in.

Court documents indicate that Foust, who was the Foreman of the sanitation crew, told investigators that at some point prior to 2010, he had the idea that rather than take both the bulk metal and scrap metal to Rensselaer Iron, he could separate the scrap metal from the bulk metal, and take the scrap metal to another scrap yard in Albany, Capitol Scrap, that paid out in cash. In doing so, he could pocket some extra money without the bulk metal even appearing to have been stripped of its parts.

Foust took this idea to his supervisor, Mr. Capuano, who approved of the idea and allowed him to use a city truck to make the trips during business hours. According to the felony complaint originally filed in court, Foust and Clark shared part of the proceeds with Mr. Capuano.  This scheme involved at least $46,000 in theft from the city during the four year period.

The Joint Task Force on Public Integrity is a cooperative effort between Attorney General Schneiderman's and Comptroller DiNapoli's offices to root out public corruption and maximize the resources of each office. Attorney General Schneiderman thanks the staff at Comptroller DiNapoli’s Office for their invaluable cooperation and assistance in this investigation.

The joint investigation was conducted with the Comptroller’s Division of Investigations.

Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Christopher Baynes of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau, assisted by Assistant Attorney General Rachel Doft and former Assistant Attorney General Colleen Glavin. The Public Integrity Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Daniel Cort and Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. The Public Integrity Bureau is part of the Division of Criminal Justice led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan. The investigation was handled by Investigator Dennis Tomasone, with support from Deputy Chief Investigator Antoine Karam and Chief Investigator Dominick Zarrella of the Attorney General's Investigations Bureau.

Since taking office in 2007, DiNapoli has committed to fighting public corruption and fraud and 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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