March 19, 2014, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015
DiNapoli: Central NY Village Official Stole More Than $100K
Former Altmar Clerk-Treasurer Wrote Herself Checks, Pocketed Cash
State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced today that an audit and investigation by his office revealed a former official of the now-dissolved village of Altmar in Oswego County stole more than $117,000 in public funds. The New York State Police yesterday arrested Margaret Bailey and charged her with felony counts of grand larceny and falsifying business records.
“This individual brazenly ripped off more than $100,000 from her community and nearly got away with it,” said DiNapoli. “She had keys to the cash register and went on a spending spree, even going as far as doubling her own salary without detection. This employee took full advantage of a system lacking proper financial controls. Our partners in law enforcement, Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes and the State Police, acted swiftly on our findings of wrongdoing and sought justice for taxpayers.”
The misappropriation was discovered after town of Albion officials requested assistance with obtaining village financial information during the dissolution process in March 2013. The village, which had a population of 400 residents, was officially dissolved in June 2013.
DiNapoli’s audit and investigation revealed that over a period of five years, Bailey used various village accounts to write $106,000 worth of checks to herself or to pay her personal obligations. This included $52,000 in voucher payments and $49,000 in payroll payments. In addition, DiNapoli's staff was able to determine Bailey pocketed more than $9,000 in cash from property tax payments, permit fees and the sale of a village vehicle and falsified village records in an effort to conceal her crimes. She also failed to pay the village her own personal property taxes in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The Comptroller’s audit and investigation also revealed:
- Bailey misappropriated the equivalent of 67 percent of the village’s real property tax levy during the 2011-12 fiscal year and the equivalent of 66 percent of the levy in 2012-13;
- Bailey altered village records in order to conceal inappropriate payments from the board;
- Bailey established an office supply credit account that was used for personal purchases; and
- The village board allowed Bailey to receive funds, make bank deposits, sign village checks, maintain the village accounting records and process payroll with little oversight.
DiNapoli recommended the Albion town board work with law enforcement to recoup the misappropriated funds and consult with the former village’s insurance agent to determine if the town can submit a claim to recoup any of the losses.
For a copy of the report, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/villages/2014/altmar.pdf
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Investigations Unit, 14th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.