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Caught Red Handed [13]

Town of Altmar
Former Oswego County village clerk took more than $100,000 in public funds

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The former clerk of an Oswego County village stole more than $117,000 in public money, wiping out two-thirds of the village's property tax collections while she failed to pay her own tax bills, according to a report out this morning from the state comptroller's office.

Margaret Bailey, the former clerk of Altmar, was arrested Tuesday by New York State Police on charges of grand larceny and falsifying business records, according to Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

"This individual brazenly ripped off more than $100,000 from her community and nearly got away with it," said DiNapoli. "She had keys to the cash register and went on a spending spree, even going as far as doubling her own salary without detection."

Bailey was arraigned in Sandy Creek Town Court on Tuesday on second-degree grand larceny and first-degree falsifying business records, both felonies, according to the comptroller's office. She was released on her own recognizance.

The village of Altmar dissolved last summer. The missing money was discovered after town of Albion officials, who took over the village business, requested assistance with obtaining village financial information, according to DiNapoli.

The comptroller's audit and investigation found that Bailey used various village accounts during a five-year span to write checks to herself or to cover personal expenses, according to DiNapoli. Those checks added up to $106,000, including an extra $49,000 in payroll payments, DiNapoli said in a news release.

Bailey also took more than $9,000 in cash from property tax payments, permit fees and the sale of a village vehicle, according to DiNapoli. She falsified village records in an effort to conceal her crimes, the report found.

At one point, she more than doubled her salary from $4,800 to $9,600, the report said. She also wrote checks from the village to the United States Treasury to pay her spouse's back taxes from 2004, the report said.

All told, from June 2009 to May 2013, Bailey wrote 126 checks totaling $106,676 from village accounts to herself or to others for her personal expenses, the report said.

The now-dissolved village board allowed Bailey to receive funds, make bank deposits, sign village checks, maintain the village accounting records and process payroll with little oversight, the report said. 

DiNapoli's report recommends the Albion town board work with law enforcement to recoup the misappropriated funds and consult with the former village's insurance agent to determine if the town can submit a claim to recoup any of the losses.

A previous report from the comptroller warned of the lack of oversight.


Margaret Bailey
Grand larceny and falsifying business records
2 to 6 Years