Selected reports and information published by New York State's Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli during the week ending May 23, 2015
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Audits of political subdivisions of the State:
Embezzlement by Former Justice Court Clerk results in incarceration, repayment of $117,120
An audit investigation by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli results in the incarceration of a former town Justice Court clerk. The audit uncovered the embezzlement of $117,120 by Mary Jo Guyette, former Town of Potsdam Justice Court Clerk. The Comptroller’s audit report is posted on the Internet at: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/towns/2014/potsdamjc.pdf.
Guyette, 44, was sentenced to six months in jail, five years probation and ordered to pay $117,120 in restitution following her January guilty plea to grand larceny in the third degree and falsifying business records in the first degree, both felonies. Guyette admitted to altering court records so she could pocket the public funds from 2009 to 2013. Since the thefts, town officials have taken several steps to improve the court’s financial oversight.
DiNapoli thanked District Attorney Mary Rain and the New York State Police for their work on this case.
According to DiNapoli’s audit, Guyette recorded receipts for $115,045 in the Justice Court’s computerized database, but failed to send the money to the town, include the payments in monthly municipal reports or notify the state Justice Court Fund of the income. Auditors also identified a cash shortage of more than $2,000.
Since taking office in 2007, DiNapoli has committed to fighting public corruption and fraud against the state’s retirement system 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 14th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.
Audits of political subdivisions of the State:
Town of Cohocton:
The town had a cash shortage of $38,136 in the clerk’s office: $29,322 from the tax collection account and $8,814 in clerk fees. Auditors identified numerous questionable deposits that were made into the tax account and may have been made by the clerk in an attempt to conceal the shortage in tax collections. The clerk was arrested in 2014, pled guilty to grand larceny and was sentenced to four months in jail and five years of probation and paid $36,000 restitution to the town.
City of Yonkers:
The city’s proposed budget for the school district has a budget gap of $25.8 million. In addition, the city has appropriated $37.5 million, or approximately 52 percent of the available fund balance, in its general fund in the 2015-16 proposed budget. The city’s use of fund balance to close gaps in the budget decreases the fund balance that is available to cover unforeseen shortfalls in revenue or unexpected expenditures. The city will also have to increase rates for metered water and sewer rents by 31 percent and 50 percent, respectively, to realize additional amounts included in the proposed budget. The city’s proposed budget complies with the property tax levy limit.
Auditors examined how municipalities complied with state laws when conveying parkland to a non-public entity or using public parkland for another purpose. Several municipalities did not comply with all of the statutory requirements, including one municipality that has not used the proceeds from its parkland alienation transaction to acquire new parkland or make capital improvements as required. Several others did not take steps to determine fair market value of the parklands alienated or replacement parcels.
Mental health provider PSCH, Inc
Mental health provider PSCH, Inc. charged $152,680 in unsubstantiated or unallowable costs to the state Office of Mental Health (OMH) including alcohol and a sunset cruise at a conference at the Montauk Yacht Club Resort and Marina, and more than $22,000 for a staff picnic,
PSCH had a five-year, nearly $30 million contract with OMH to provide services and housing to persons with mental disabilities and substance abuse. The provider claimed $152,680 in costs that could not be substantiated or are not allowable under the contract, DiNapoli found. That included $31,908 for directors and executive staff to attend a two-day conference at the Montauk Yacht Club Resort and $22,901 for a staff picnic. While at the resort, PSCH charged $10,723 for alcohol, $5,064 for extra guests, $13,378 for post-conference lodging and $2,743 for a sunset cruise, tips and gifts. PSCH also charged nearly $98,000 for other duplicate, unsubstantiated or inappropriate charges.
In response to the Comptroller’s report and recommendations, OMH officials agreed to recover program overpayments where appropriate and ensure that PSCH staff receives training to recognize unallowable costs such as alcohol and entertainment.
Also released: eleven letter reports to the following municipalities:
Town of Amherst
Town of Clifton Park
Town of East Greenbush
Town of East Hampton
Town of North Hempstead
Town of Orangetown
County of Onondaga
County of Nassau
Village of Port Jefferson
Village of Round Lake
City of Rensselaer