Pennellville Volunteer Fireman’s Association (VFA) former Fire Chief Duane Royal pleaded guilty Wednesday to petit larceny for stealing VFA gas for his private process-serving business, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said.
“Stealing gas for yourself is a crime, no matter the amount,” DiNapoli said. “I urge all fire protection providers to safeguard public assets and tighten their oversight to prevent such thefts. I thank the New York State Police and Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes for taking action on this case.”
“I want to personally thank Comptroller DiNapoli for his continued efforts to protect nonprofits, and the taxpayers they serve, from fraud and theft,” said Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes. “With the assistance of the New York State Police, we were able to hold Mr. Royal accountable and obtain full restitution for the fire department. This case is a great example of the positive impact we can have when agencies work together on the public's behalf.”
Royal, 55, admitted gassing up at the VFA pump and using his chief’s truck for his business. Based on DiNapoli’s audit and investigation, Royal was previously suspended related to the proposed sale of a VFA truck for $3,000 without permission. His charges were limited to the $2,950 gas theft. The criminal disposition was reached after Royal made full restitution before pleading guilty and with the support of the current VFA president and governing board.
The Comptroller’s audit concluded that the Pennellville VFA failed to account for cash payments, lacked cash receipts for deposits totaling $134,882, and did not keep track of money raised at music event fundraisers.
Statewide, DiNapoli’s audits and investigations have led to more than 130 arrests and $26 million in money recovered since 2011. 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.