Former Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) Treasurer Timothy J. Brown pleaded guilty to grand larceny and agreed to repay the $30,000 he stole for private vacations revealed in an audit and investigation by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
Brown, 54, of Tupper Lake, pleaded guilty in Franklin County Court last week to grand larceny in the third degree, a Class D felony, and is expected to be sentenced in April to six months in jail and five years probation along with the $30,000 restitution. Brown also admitted pocketing $3,500 one summer from chicken barbecue and golf tournament fundraisers.
“This case is a warning to officials who would blur the line between public duty and private lives,” State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said. “I thank the Tupper Lake Police Chief Eric Proulx, Franklin County District Attorney Craig Carriero and staff for their diligent work in helping us hold Mr. Brown accountable.”
DiNapoli’s probe began after the Tupper Lake VFD discovered Brown’s credit card abuse and contacted the Comptroller’s office. The audit and investigation concluded that Brown operated freely without oversight from the board, withdrew department cash and used its credit card for Candlewood Suites in North Carolina, the Boston Duck Tour and household expenses.
Brown, who was treasurer for eight years, said he began to steal because he was spiraling into personal credit card debt.
The audit recommended that the Tupper Lake VFD Board of Directors:
- Require the VFD treasurer to properly reconcile bank statements with department records and report bank activity on a monthly and annual basis;
- Perform a thorough review of supporting documentation for all claims, including for credit card purchases; and
- Ensure that all fundraisers have detailed records of the money collected and that cash receipts are deposited in a timely manner.
Fire Department officials agreed with the audit findings and have implemented the Comptroller’s recommendations. Their response is included in the final audit report, which can be viewed here: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/firedists/2016/tupperlake.pdf
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 [email protected], or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 14th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236. Review prior cases at http://www.osc.state.ny.us/investigations/index.htm.