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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Press Releases

November 1, 2013, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

DiNapoli: Fire Company President Stole $34,000

Used Company Funds to Buy Electronics, Pornography, Jewelry

 

The former president of C. H. Evans Hook and Ladder Fire Company No. 3, located in the city of Hudson, misused the company’s debit card to make personal purchases totaling approximately $34,000, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The former president, Joseph Morrison Jr., pleaded guilty on Oct. 29 in Columbia County Court to the charge of Grand Larceny in the third degree, a class D felony.

“Stealing public money in such a carefree manner is appalling,” said DiNapoli. “Residents pay for this fire company to keep their families and their homes safe, not to fund this individual’s excessive lifestyle. It’s unfortunate that my office continues to uncover situations such as this where public funds are stolen because proper checks and balances are not in place. Thankfully, my staff was able to work closely with Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka and his staff to ensure this individual was held accountable.”

"I am pleased that Comptroller DiNapoli was able to uncover this blatant misuse of fire company money,” said Czajka. "Thanks to the Comptroller's audit and investigation, and the work of the city of Hudson police department and Chief Edward Moore, my office was able secure a guilty plea and hold this individual responsible for his criminal conduct. This type of cooperation should reassure residents that their best interests are being protected.”

DiNapoli’s audit and investigation found that from October 2009 through December 2012, Morrison used $34,000 in company funds to purchase items such as an iPad, bunk beds, jewelry, an aquarium and a variety of power tools. Of that total, 82 online transactions totaling $4,100 were made for pornography.

Morrison’s illegal purchases also included:
· $7,342 in ATM withdrawals;
· $3,378 for personal telephone, utility and cable television expenses;
· $3,064 for rental furniture;
· $2,000 for car repairs; and
· $2,200 for gas station and grocery store purchases.

In addition, DiNapoli’s auditors and investigators estimate Morrison may have stolen as much as $5,600 in fundraising donations. Morrison also made 73 purchases and cash withdrawals totaling more than $7,500 that appear questionable.

Morrison, who is employed in the city of Hudson’s public works department, is due back in Columbia County court on March 4 for sentencing.

DiNapoli made a number of recommendations to fire company officials in the audit. They include:
· Seek reimbursement for the misappropriated funds;
· Develop internal controls over cash disbursement;
· Ensure the company treasurer maintains detailed cash receipt and disbursement records;
· Develop policies and procedures for use of debit cards;
· Review all invoices and ensure that monthly bank reconciliations are completed;
· Develop internal controls to ensure that all collections are accounted for and deposited; and
· Review bank records to ensure that transactions listed agree with disbursements approved.

For a copy of the report visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/firedists/2013/chevanshookladder3.pdf

For access to state and local government spending and nearly 50,000 state contracts, visit http://www.openbooknewyork.com/. The easy-to-use website was created by Comptroller DiNapoli to promote openness in government and provide taxpayers with better access to the financial workings of government.


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