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October 24, 2007

DiNapoli: More Than $62,000 Either Stolen or Missing
from Mansfield Hose Company Accounts

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said today that due to poor record keeping and very weak controls over financial transactions, more than $62,000 in W.K. Mansfield Hose Company funds were either lost or stolen between 2001 and 2007.

After conducting an internal audit in January, fire officials contacted the State Comptroller’s Office and the State Police, resulting in the arrest of the company’s treasurer, Lee Lussier. The Comptroller’s Office agreed to audit the fire company to identify how much money was lost. The company serves the West Crescent Fire District and portions of the towns of Halfmoon and Clifton Park.

“Fire companies provide a vital service to the communities they serve. It is important that they make the most of public resources,” said DiNapoli. “It’s imperative that officials watch every single dollar. In the case of W.K. Mansfield, I commend fire officials for their work in uncovering the theft and contacting the authorities. I am also pleased that my office was in a position to assist the company in identifying how much money was lost, and providing guidance on how to prevent this kind of thing from occurring again.”

Auditors found that the company’s treasurer had unlimited access to and control over company funds, and operated with virtually no oversight, enabling him to allegedly steal company moneys and conceal the theft. He reportedly took a great deal of the money by making checks out to “Cash.” Auditors attribute $43,461 of the missing money to him. His spouse, who was responsible for collecting moneys paid to the company for renting the fire hall, misappropriated at least $18,713. She did this through ATM withdrawals and by making checks out to “Cash.”

DiNapoli recommends that the board and treasurer protect fire company dollars by:

  • Establishing written procedures for controls over cash transactions;
  • Reviewing monthly reports to verify that cash deposits agree with company books;
  • Presenting accurate records to the board on a monthly and annual basis;
  • Properly overseeing the treasurer by appointing another company official to periodically reconcile bank accounts; and
  • Recovering the lost moneys.

The fire board indicated they generally agreed with the Comptroller’s recommendations and would take corrective action.

Click here for a copy of the report.


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