Pennellville Volunteer Fireman’s Association (VFA) Fire Chief Duane Royal was charged with grand larceny Sunday for allegedly stealing gas from the fire association for his private use, according to an audit and investigation by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
“Once again we see another alleged crime that was easily prevented by proper oversight,” DiNapoli said. “This VFA never followed the money. Unfortunately, their hands–off approach led to serious problems. By partnering with the New York State Police and Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes, we are holding this fire chief accountable.”
Royal, 54, admitted to DiNapoli’s staff and the New York State Police that he gassed up at the VFA pump and used his chief’s truck for his personal business as a process server. He was charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree, a class E felony. DiNapoli’s staff also found that Royal was suspended for a month after selling the VFA truck for $3,000 without informing his colleagues.
The Comptroller’s audit concluded that the Pennellville VFA failed to account for cash disbursements, that the treasurer lacked cash receipts for 261 deposits totaling $134,882, and that board members could not say whether music event-fundraisers benefitted the VFA due to the lack of treasurer reports for four such events.
DiNapoli made 16 recommendations to the VFA board and Treasurer, including:
- Strengthen internal controls with specific guidance for cash receipts and disbursements;
- Train the treasurer to adequately perform his or her duties and require monthly reports on financial transactions;
- Strengthen fuel purchase controls; and
- Maintain detailed financial records related to cash transactions, fundraising events and loans to members.
VFA officials agreed with the Comptroller’s audit findings and stated that most have been implemented. Their response is included in the final audit report, which can be viewed here: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/firedists/2015/pennellville.pdf
Statewide, DiNapoli’s audits and investigations have led to more than 100 arrests and $20 million in money recovered since 2011. 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. Review prior cases at http://www.osc.state.ny.us/investigations/index.htm.