November 2, 2011
DiNapoli: Clerk-Treasurer Allegedly Stole $18,378 from Village of Wampsville
Wampsville’s clerk-treasurer allegedly took $18,378 by writing herself extra paychecks and pocketing cash payments from residents, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
“This treasurer brazenly pocketed cash handed to her in good faith by people paying their taxes,” DiNapoli said. “Simple oversight of her financial records would have ended these misdeeds years before they came to light. I encourage village officials across the state to check and double-check their books to prevent these costly crimes.”
Auditors from the Comptroller’s office discovered the missing money while examining the village’s financial records, and forwarded their findings to the Madison County Sheriff’s office. As a result, Barbara W. Butler, 50, of Canastota, was charged with third-degree grand larceny in September. She told investigators she began stealing after she went into debt and gambled at the Turning Stone casino.
The audit found that Butler wrote dozens of checks to herself and pocketed cash brought in by residents to pay their property taxes, among other scams, from 2008 to 2011. She resigned August 9, after serving as clerk-treasurer for nearly 13 years.
Because the Wampsville board failed to monitor her books for several years, Butler was able to allegedly steal more than 10 percent of the tiny village’s annual budget. Wampsville, in the town of Lenox in Madison County, had a budget of approximately $161,000 last year.
Comptroller DiNapoli recommended that the village board recover the misappropriated funds and, in the future, monitor the clerk-treasurer’s financial records. Village officials agreed with the Comptroller’s recommendations. Officials now require double signatures on checks, review itemized financial reports and check photocopies of all checks at each board meeting.
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 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.