The West Hurley Fire District’s former chief and a fire commissioner pleaded guilty Tuesday evening to official misconduct following their March arrests for using fire district resources to support the former chief wife’s Woodstock Landscaping & Excavating business.
Former chief David Gutierrez and Michael “Bucky” VanValkenburgh, a current fire commissioner, who pleaded guilty in Hurley Town Court, were initially charged for abusing their authority and costing the district over $30,000 since 2012. Specifically, Gutierrez was accused of using the fire district water tanker to fill ponds, mix concrete and water plants along and used a fire district vehicle to travel for the business.
VanValkenburgh, who also worked for Woodstock Landscaping & Excavating, was initially accused of defrauding the district of $20,755 by laundering payments through a relative, who had a cleaning contract with the fire district.
“Once again, the excellent work of Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright and his staff have brought another important corruption case to completion and set an example for the public that abuse of their resources will not be tolerated,” State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said.
Gutierrez pleaded guilty Tuesday evening to official misconduct and petit larceny, plus a two year conditional discharge, $10,000 fine and to leave the fire department for at least five years.
VanValkenburgh had the same agreement, but only pleaded to official misconduct.
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.