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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Press Releases

October 2, 2013, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

DiNapoli: Audit Cites Town of Shandaken Employee for Misappropriating Funds

 

The secretary of the Ulster County town of Shandaken highway department misused more than $20,000, including $5,000 in federal funding that was earmarked for flood cleanup costs, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The findings of the Comptroller’s audit and investigation were referred to the New York State Police. They arrested Florence Sullivan on July 17 and charged her with one count of grand larceny in the third degree, one count of falsifying business records in the first degree and one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree.

“This public employee abused her position and turned a disaster in her community into an opportunity to line her own pockets,” said DiNapoli. “Town officials deserve credit for acting swiftly after learning about the stolen funds, as do the New York State Police for holding this individual accountable for her wrongdoing.”

Auditors found that Sullivan issued herself 19 extra payroll checks for “other earnings” between Jan. 1, 2012 and Jan. 31, 2013 totaling $5,538, after the town received FEMA funds as reimbursement for damage caused by Hurricane Irene. In 2012, Sullivan paid her husband, a highway department employee, an additional $1,800 in compensation.

The Comptroller’s audit also revealed:

  • Sullivan underpaid her health insurance premiums by nearly $9,000 from Jan. 2007 through Jan. 2013. During this same time, she incorrectly charged town employees for health insurance premiums;
  • Sullivan received a potentially unauthorized payment of more than $3,000 for preparing FEMA claims in 2007; and
  • Several town employees were underpaid or overpaid a total of $2,500 due to payroll errors by the town’s part-time secretary / bookkeeper.

DiNapoli made several recommendations to the town to improve financial oversight, including:

  • Certify town payroll by reviewing the payroll details prior to payment, including periodically examining salaries and hourly wage rates to ensure that they match board-approved amounts;
  • Enforce current policies to ensure that town employees complete a time record and that employees’ time sheets receive supervisory approval prior to processing the payroll; and
  • Seek reimbursement for any unauthorized payments.

Town officials indicated they have taken steps to improve their internal financial controls. Their complete response to the audit is included in the final report.

For a copy of the report, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/towns/2013/shandaken.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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