State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and George P. Beach II, Superintendent of the New York State Police, announced that ROBERT M. GARCIA, the former president and chief of the Briarcliff Manor Fire Department in Briarcliff Manor, New York (BMFD), pled guilty to embezzlement of more than $120,000 from the BMFD. GARCIA pled guilty in White Plains federal court before U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel.
State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said: "Mr. Garcia has admitted brazenly writing checks to himself for $122,000 from the Briarcliff Manor Fire Department. Thanks to my ongoing partnership with United States Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman, the FBI and the State Police, he will now be held accountable. This is a reminder to employ strong checks and balances and internal controls to guard public funds."
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: "As he admitted, Robert Garcia abused his positions of trust with the Briarcliff Manor Fire Department and Fire Council to engage in flagrant self-dealing. He lined his pockets with Fire Department and Fire Council money to pay personal expenses, and then lied about it to cover his tracks. Now Garcia may be facing prison time for his crime."
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: "As a fire department official, Garcia was expected to be trustworthy and reliable, but, as he admitted, he proved himself unprincipled by his deceitful actions. For approximately four years, Garcia abused his elected position to channel over $120,000 into his personal accounts. Instead of tending to the needs of the community, Garcia tended to his own needs. Corruption may be a deep-rooted plant in parts of our society, but as his plea demonstrates, we are committed to rooting out corruption in all of its forms."
According to the information and statements made in related court filings and proceedings: GARCIA was elected to the position of second assistant chief of the BMFD in or about April 2013. His election to that position also made him an officer of the Briarcliff Manor Fire Council, which oversees the BMFD.
GARCIA was thereafter elected to different administrative and operational positions within the BMFD, including first assistant chief, chief, treasurer and president. As a result, GARCIA was also an officer of the Fire Council from in or about April 2013 through in or about April 2017.
GARCIA was given signatory authority over bank accounts held by the Fire Council and the BMFD starting in April 2013.
From in or about May 2013 to in or about March 2017, GARCIA embezzled money from the BMFD and the Fire Council by writing checks drawn on the BMFD's and Fire Council's bank accounts that he made payable to himself. GARCIA then deposited these checks into his personal bank accounts. He used the embezzled proceeds to pay personal expenses. GARCIA covered up his thefts by making material misstatements regarding the purposes and payees of the checks he had written to himself on written reports he gave to the Fire Council when he acted as the BMFD's treasurer from in or about 2014 through in or about April 2017. GARCIA embezzled more than $120,000 from the BMFD and the Fire Council by writing approximately 150 checks to himself.
GARCIA, 51, of Ossining, New York, pled guilty to one count of embezzlement theft concerning a program receiving federal funds, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as the sentence will be determined by the court.
GARCIA is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Seibel on November 15, 2018, at 3:30 p.m.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI, New York State Comptroller and New York State Police.
This case is being handled by the Office's White Plains Division. Assistant United States Attorney James McMahon is in charge of the prosecution.
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, N.Y. 12236.