An audit and investigation by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s led to the arrest today of DePeyster Town Clerk and Tax Collector Michelle Sheppard, who admitted she falsified her personal town and county tax payments of $4,303.
“Day after day, Ms. Sheppard watched her friends and neighbors pay their taxes. Yet she decided she deserved a free ride, in a blatant violation of her public duty,” DiNapoli said. “I thank District Attorney Mary Rain and the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office for their hard work and partnership with my staff to bring this individual to justice.”
“It is always a pleasure working with our law enforcement partners in the Comptroller’s Office because they do such a thorough job investigating their cases, which makes my job as a prosecutor easier,” Rain said. “Finding corruption in government may be difficult, but it’s important to maintain the public’s confidence that it will be detected and prosecuted.”
Sheppard, 43, was charged with nine counts of tampering with public records in the first degree, a Class D felony, and official misconduct, a misdemeanor, for crimes dating back to 2011. As tax collector, Sheppard is responsible for recording, depositing, remitting and reporting all real property tax moneys collected in a timely and accurate manner.
Her actions were uncovered during an audit and investigation by DiNapoli’s staff, which noticed discrepancies in the town books and obtained a confession. Sheppard has since repaid the bulk of her delinquent tax bills.
DiNapoli’s audits and investigations have led to more than 90 arrests and $18 million in ordered restitution since 2011. The audit of DePeyster’s town clerk and tax collection is pending.
Since taking office in 2007, DiNapoli has committed to fighting public corruption 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 [email protected], or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 14th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.