New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced the audits listed below for School Districts and Municipalities were issued during the week ending August 5, 2022:
Click on the text highlighted in color to access the complete audit report.
School District Audits
District officials did not always seek competition for professional services in accordance with district policy. As a result, services may not have been procured in the most economical manner and in the best interest of the taxpayers. District officials paid $1.2 million to six professional service providers without seeking competition and used a request for proposals (RFP) process to select certain professional service providers many years ago but did not seek new competition. Officials paid $2.1 million to six professional service providers who were selected based on RFPs issued in 2013 and 2014.
District officials did not establish adequate controls over user accounts and software updates to help prevent against unauthorized use, access and loss. In addition, officials did not periodically review all network user accounts and permissions. Auditors found 58 network user accounts had unnecessary administrative permissions and 111 network user accounts were unneeded and should have been disabled. Officials also did not adopt an adequate comprehensive information technology contingency plan to minimize the risk of data loss or prevent a serious interruption of services.
The board did not provide adequate oversight of financial operations. Specifically, the board did not establish compensation controls to address the lack of segregation of the treasurer’s duties. The board also did not request or receive adequate monthly reports from the treasurer to adequately monitor operations, ensure bank reconciliations were properly prepared, retained and reviewed or ensure all claims paid in advance were for allowable purposes.
The board and supervisor did not effectively manage the town’s financial operations, and were unaware of the town’s true financial position, because the supervisor did not maintain accurate accounting records and reports. In addition, the board did not implement adequate corrective action to address prior audit findings and recommendations, which prolonged significant deficiencies, such as inadequate financial policies, procedures, records and reports. The board also did not conduct, or contract for, an annual audit of the supervisor’s records or establish written multiyear financial and capital plans to adequately manage fund balance.
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New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli also reported that a former Village of Sherman treasurer was arrested for an alleged theft of $20,000 of town funds, noting that residents’ cash tax payments were then spent at Dollar General, Walmart, QVC and Amazon.
Former Village of Sherman Treasurer Ann Gilbert faces felony charges for the alleged theft of more than $20,000 in cash paid by residents from 2012 to 2016 for village sewer, water and taxes, according to an investigation by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt and the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office. Gilbert, 54, who now resides in Florida, was charged with grand larceny in the third degree.*
“Ms. Gilbert allegedly betrayed her neighbors by pocketing tax payments to pay her personal expenses,” DiNapoli said. “I thank District Attorney Schmidt and the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office for partnering with my office to hold her accountable.”
“This is not a victimless crime,” District Attorney Schmidt said. “The Village of Sherman, like many of our local municipalities here in Chautauqua County, is engaged in an every-day battle to service its residents with precious little money. Every dollar stolen is a dollar not spent on the community. No one should use their public office for personal gain.”
Ms. Gilbert allegedly embezzled village funds to pay for her personal utility bills and purchases from QVC, Dollar General, Walmart, Amazon and Pampered Chef.
To conceal her crimes, she stopped recording cash village tax payments and, instead, pocketed the money. After the Village of Sherman’s Mayor Colleen Meeder discovered Gilbert’s alleged acts of "jobbery"**, she reported them to the State Comptroller and the District Attorney who commenced an investigation. Gilbert was the village treasurer from June 2007 until August 2016.
On April 22, 2022, the State Comptroller’s Office released an audit detailing financial mismanagement of cash receipts and making recommendations for improved internal controls.
Gilbert was arrested today pending arraignment in Chautauqua County Court before Judge Marilyn Gerace.
The arrest was a result of a joint investigation between the State Comptroller’s Office, the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office and the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office.
* The charges against the defendant are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.
** As noted in previous NYPPL reports of such alleged acts of such 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".
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 8th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.