State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today announced the felony guilty plea of former Department of Health (DOH) contract employee George Dunkel for padding his bills and stealing more than $110,000 from the state.
“Mr. Dunkel stole more than $110,000 in public funds earmarked to promote the immunization of children,” DiNapoli said. “This was a coldhearted act to enrich himself at the expense of children and taxpayers. Working with the Attorney General, our joint investigation has ensured that Mr. Dunkel has been brought to justice and the stolen funds will be returned. We continue to send this message: Those who cheat the state will be caught and appropriately punished.”
“The law applies to everyone equally, no matter how rich or how powerful, and that is why we will continue to take aggressive action against anyone who abuses the public trust and rips off taxpayers,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office has aggressively prosecuted over 50 individuals in public corruption cases since 2011, including a sitting state senator, a current member of the New York City Council, and elected officials from both parties across New York State. Public corruption undermines faith in government, and that is why I have made cracking down on public corruption a top priority.”
Dunkel, 45, of Latham, the former executive director of the American Academy of Pediatrics, District II (AAP-II), pleaded guilty to one count of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, a Class E felony, in Albany County Court. He will repay the state $110,044 at his sentencing on Oct. 31, and is expected to receive 30 days in jail, five years probation, and up to 100 hours of community service.
The joint investigation by State Comptroller DiNapoli and Attorney General Schneiderman revealed that Dunkel created false invoices and submitted fraudulent vouchers to inflate AAP-II’s expenses while under contract with DOH to provide training and education on childhood immunization issues. The Comptroller’s audit is ongoing.
AAP-II received more than $1.5 million from 2006 to 2013 in state funds for immunization grant contracts. As a result of the criminal probe, DiNapoli’s office in February rejected a $133,860 contract extension with AAP-II for similar services through June 2014.
The joint investigation was conducted by the Comptroller’s Division of Investigations and Bureau of State Expenditures and the Attorney General’s Investigations Bureau. The prosecution was conducted by the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau.
Prosecuting the case is Senior Counsel Darren Miller, with support from Public Integrity Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz, Bureau Chief Daniel Cort, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan. The prosecutors were assisted by Investigations Bureau Investigator Dennis Churns, with support from Deputy Chief Antoine Karam and Chief Dominick Zarrella of the Investigations Bureau.
Anyone with additional information on this matter or any other suspected public corruption is encouraged to contact the State Comptroller’s office by calling the toll-free fraud hotline at 1-888-672-4555; filing a complaint online at [email protected]; or mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller Investigations Unit, 110 State Street, 14th floor, Albany, NY 12236 or the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-996-4630.
For a copy of the Comptroller’s initial audit, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/bseaudits/bse20140228.htm
For a copy of the criminal complaint, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/sites/default/files/other/documents/pdf/2019-04/dunkel-felony-complaint.pdf