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Former Otisville treasurer sentenced for embezzling town funds

June 22, 2011

Former Otisville Treasurer Barbara McDowell was sentenced today in Orange County Court to 6 months in jail and 5 years probation, after an investigation by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the New York State Police and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office found she stole $77,000 from the village over a six-year period.

McDowell, who pleaded guilty to grand larceny in April, has already reimbursed the village for the amount taken.

“Barbara McDowell took advantage of the trust of her fellow village residents to line her own pockets, but she’s paying the price now,” DiNapoli said. “Any misappropriation of public funds cannot be tolerated. I again want to thank the State Police and Orange County District Attorney Frank Phillips for their assistance in prosecuting McDowell and returning funds back to taxpayers.”

McDowell misappropriated village funds over a six-year period by writing at least thirty unauthorized checks to herself, including extra payroll and health benefit waiver checks. McDowell attempted to conceal her theft through poor record-keeping and falsifying records.

Otisville Mayor Brian Wona initially requested an examination of village finances by DiNapoli’s office. In addition to the findings against McDowell, the subsequent audit detailed the lack of adequate internal controls and inadequate policies and procedures in Otisville.

The Office of the State Comptroller had identified irregularities in Otisville’s financial records management as far back as 1999. After the Comptroller’s 2010 audit, the village and mayor committed to adopting policies and procedures to address these issues.

A copy of the audit can be found at: http://osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/villages/2010/otisville.pdf

DiNapoli is encouraging the public to help fight against fraud and abuse. New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud, corruption and abuse of taxpayer money by: calling the Comptroller’s toll-free fraud hotline at 1-888-672-4555; filing a complaint online at investigations@osc.state.ny.us, or mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller Investigations Unit, 110 State Street, 14th floor,Albany, NY 12236.