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NEWS from the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Contact: Press Office 518-474-4015

Former Lake George Watershed Coalition Director Sentenced to 8-24 Years for Stealing Nearly $250,000 in State Grant Funds

David Decker Double Billed Multiple Grants, Pocketed Money Meant for Vendors, and Falsified Tax Returns to Conceal Theft

September 9, 2020

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Warren County District Attorney Jason Carusone announced today that David Decker, former director of the Lake George Watershed Coalition, was sentenced today in Warren County court to 8-24 years in prison after a jury convicted him of 6 felonies, including grand larceny in the second degree, scheme to defraud in the first degree and four counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, related to his diversion of federal and state grant funds meant to improve the area surrounding Lake George.

The jury convicted Decker after hearing evidence that he was double billing two different grants for the same work, one from the Town of Queensbury and another from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Services, in the amount of $135,000. Additionally, evidence at trial showed that Decker pocketed over $100,000 in state grant funds meant to reimburse subcontractors whom he never paid. While the victims went unpaid, bank records showed that Decker withdrew funds from the Watershed Operating account at the Saratoga Race Course, Foxwoods MGM, Harrah’s and Turning Stone casinos. The records also show that he paid his personal credit card bills as well as numerous other personal expenses and inappropriately transferred grant money to his personal investment funds.

Decker was also convicted of filing four false tax returns which failed to report income from funds diverted from the grant programs as well as a for-profit basketball league for children.

The Lake George Watershed Coalition is a consortium of municipalities and organizations surrounding Lake George including Warren County, the towns of Queensbury and Bolton and the village of Lake George, and was created in 2001 to preserve the beauty and health of Lake George by coordinating state and federal grant funds. Decker worked as program manager until his arrest in 2018.

“Mr. Decker helped himself to hundreds of thousands of dollars meant to help his community,” said State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. “Thanks to my partnership with District Attorney Carusone, the Department of Taxation and Finance, and the Warren County Sherriff’s Department, Decker’s shameless exploitation of his position of trust was exposed and he has now been held accountable for his actions.”

“David Decker’s years of illegal conduct harmed local businesses, government entities and not for profit organizations,” said District Attorney Jason Carusone. “The jury’s verdict and the court’s sentence send a strong message to the defendant that his ongoing criminal activity will not be tolerated. I thank the exceptional work of assistant district attorney Ben Smith along with special assistant district attorney Christine Stevens who jointly prosecuted the case. I also wish to thank the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, the New York State Office of the State Comptroller, and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance for their hard work through the course of a lengthy investigation and trial.”

“State grant funding is meant specifically for the betterment of local communities,” New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Michael Schmidt said. “When that money is instead used for someone’s personal gain, they must be held accountable. We cannot stand by while the public trust is so blatantly violated. I commend the efforts of all partners involved in this case.”

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, 8th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.