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June 11, 2021

Former public officer spent stolen public funds for such personal expenses as vacations, shopping and cooking classes

On June 11, 2021, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Cortland County District Attorney Patrick Perfetti announced that former Pharsalia Town Supervisor Dennis Brown pleaded guilty to stealing $240,000 in public funds and must now pay full restitution. The thefts were discovered through their joint investigation.*

“For decades, the residents of Pharsalia trusted Dennis Brown to safeguard taxpayer money, but instead he treated the town’s funds like a personal piggybank, pocketing over $240,000,” DiNapoli said. “We have no tolerance for abuse of the public’s trust and today Dennis Brown faces consequences for his crimes. My thanks to the New York State Police and to Cortland County DA Perfetti for partnering with us to uncover his corruption.”

“I acknowledge that this disposition was a long time in coming,” District Attorney Perfetti said. “I want to credit Assistant District Attorney Adam Ratner with leading extensive negotiations regarding the recovery of a substantial portion of what we would have been able to prove at trial. I hope that this case serves as a reminder to those who enjoy the honor of public service in that they execute their duties with the responsibility entrusted to them and that the public deserves.”

Brown pleaded guilty today in front of Judge Hon. Frank B. Revoir, Chenango County, to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, as a crime of Public Corruption. He must pay $240,000 in restitution, of which he has already paid $125,000, and faces a potential state prison term at his sentencing, which is scheduled for Sept. 17, 2021.

Brown, 72, was arrested on April 10, 2019, after DiNapoli’s office, working with the State Police and District Attorney, found that he had inflated his salary and used the town credit card to pay for numerous personal expenses. He used public funds to pay for groceries, cooking classes, liquor store purchases, a subscription, gift shop purchases, clothes, designer handbags, jewelry, home utilities, work on his property and vacations.

He was the longest-serving town supervisor in Chenango County, in office for 35 years, until he lost an election in 2019. At the time of his arrest he was also a paid member of the county’s Board of Supervisors and served on its finance and public works committees. 

* As noted in previous NYPPL reports of such acts of misconduct, there is a term for such breaches of the public trust, "jobbery." Mirriam-Webster defines "jobbery as "the improper use of public office or conduct of public business for private gain".

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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 mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 8th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236 or filing a complaint online at investigations@osc.ny.gov.


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