State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Richard A. Lobur, 55, of Akron, NY, pleaded before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford to theft of government money. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John D. Fabian, who is handling the case, stated that on January 12, 2015, the defendant deposited into his account at the Bank of Akron, $18,000 of grant funds intended to be used for educational expenses for his children. The funds were administered as part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant.
Between January 12 and June 9, 2015, Lobur provided $15,000 of the grant funds to his children, but also converted more than $1,000 of the remaining $3,000 to his personal use. The defendant knew that he was not entitled to convert the grant funds to his own personal use and he knew that the intended and lawful use of the funds was for educational expenses for his children.
As part of his plea agreement, Lobur will pay restitution totaling $39,182.92. The money was used for, among other things: payments on a Yard Card, Discover Card, and FIA Card, which were used to buy a truck, lawnmower and camper, and a payment to Akron Mobile Home Park.
"Mr. Lobur took nearly $40,000 in federal grant money meant to further the education of firefighters and their families and instead used it for personal expenses including paying off his credit card debt and making loan payments," said State Comptroller DiNapoli. "Thanks to my investigators and auditors working with the Federal Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, and the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York, this shameless abuse of the public’s money was exposed. I thank United States Attorney James P. Kennedy and Acting Homeland Security Inspector General Jennifer L. Costello for their continued partnership."
"It’s a sad day when a defendant chooses to line his own pockets with federal funding intended for the educational expenses of his own children," stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. "The SAFER grant is designed to allow individuals to serve the public as firefighters and first responders without the added burden and stress of having to figure out how to pay for their children’s education. Any misuse of such funding will not be tolerated and anyone who does attempt to abuse the program will be brought to justice."
"The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG), is pleased by the assistance of the New York State Comptroller’s Office’s with the joint investigation to pursue criminal charges against Rick Lobur, a former firefighter in Akron, New York, for committing FEMA grant fraud," stated John Tiano, Special Agent-in- Charge, Detroit Field Office. "The DHS-OIG will always relentlessly pursue those who selfishly use their position to betray the public trust."
The plea is the result of an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge John Tiano, Detroit Field Office, and the New York State Comptroller’s Office, under the direction of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
Sentencing is scheduled for October 30, 2019, before Judge Wolford.