State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced today that Robert Garcia, the former president and chief of the Briarcliff Manor Fire Department ("BMFD"), was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel to 12 months in prison for charges arising out of his embezzlement of more than $120,000 from the BMFD, after his prosecution by United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey S. Berman.
"Mr. Garcia betrayed his neighbors and colleagues in the fire department to steal over $120,000 meant to protect his community. Now, he is a convicted felon," said State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. "I thank United States Attorney Berman, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York State Police for their continued partnership in rooting out fraud."
According to documents filed in court by U.S. Attorney Berman, 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 Briarcliff Manor Fire Department. 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 cover 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.
On July 2, 2018, Garcia pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement from a program receiving federal funds, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
In addition to the prison sentence, Garcia, 51, of Ossining, NY, was sentenced to two years of supervised release and fined $20,000. Garcia paid full restitution to the BMFD prior to sentencing.
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.