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Steuben County DA: …”the most complete, and to be frank shocking, breach of public trust I have encountered in 30 years”

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Almost $1.2 million dollars embezelled by Addison elected official

Michael T. Baldwin Reports,

A longtime clerk-treasurer of the Village of Addison in Steuben County has been arrested for allegedly stealing more than $1.17 million in village funds over the course of at least 19 years, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker, and the New York State Police announced today.

“For well over a decade, Ursula Stone took advantage of her position and the trust of Addison residents to systematically steal over a million dollars from her community,” DiNapolisaid. “Thanks to the work of my office and our partnership with District Attorney Baker and the State Police, her crimes were uncovered, and she now faces the consequences of her actions. I thank our law enforcement partners for their commitment to fighting public corruption.”

“This case represents the most complete, and to be frank shocking, breach of public trust I have encountered in 30 years as a Steuben County prosecutor,” Baker said. “The reality is that but for some real heads-up detection work by members of the State Comptroller’s staff it would still be on-going. Comptroller DiNapoli’s auditors picked up on some red flags village auditors missed, triggered an investigation and put in hundreds of hours to put this case together, with critical investigative assistance from the New York State Police Special Investigation Unit. Obviously, the case is just beginning, and we must presume the defendant innocent at this stage, but no matter what happens I, on behalf of the People of Steuben County and in particular the residents of the Village of Addison, extend huge thanks to Comptroller DiNapoli and the New York State Police for identifying the problem, stopping the bleeding and putting in the time to put us in a place to make justice happen in this case.”

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“I commend the diligent work of our State Police members and our partners at the State Comptroller’s Office and Steuben County District Attorney’s Office for putting an end to this deceitful plan,” New York State Police Acting Superintendent Dominick L. Chiumento said. “Ms. Stone selfishly took advantage of her position to profit at the expense of taxpayers and the local community that she was supposed to be serving. We have no tolerance for any type of public corruption and the State Police will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold all of these such persons accountable.”

DiNapoli’s office began an audit of the village in 2022 and found the 55-year-old Stone had been running the financial operations of the village with no oversight or accountability. She prepared payroll, maintained manual leave records, and processed health insurance buyouts and unused leave payments with no review or approval from the mayor or any other village official.

DiNapoli’s office also discovered that checks from the Addison Central School District, payable to the village, were not deposited into the village’s accounts. A joint investigation by DiNapoli’s office, the New York State Police, and the Steuben County District Attorney’s Office determined that Stone allegedly stole not only the school district’s checks, but also dozens of other checks payable to the village, which she converted to certified bank checks and cashed.

Additionally, investigators found Stone gave herself unauthorized pay raises, took time off without deducting it from her leave credits, and wrote herself checks for unauthorized health insurance buyouts from village funds. Stone had also been cashing out unused vacation time since 2004, an option that was only available to employees who resigned or retired.

Further, Stone gave insurance buyouts to one employee and awarded a large separation payment to another employee, making $73,666 in payments that were not authorized.

Stone resigned in March 2023 during the course of the investigation. Before submitting her resignation letter, she wrote herself a final check for $26,613, which was not authorized by the board. The board stopped payment on the check before she was able to cash it.

In total, investigators say she stole $1,171,362.

Stone, who worked for the village from 1997 until her resignation, was charged with one count each of Grand Larceny in the 1st degree, Money Laundering in the 2nd degree, Corrupting the Government in the 1st degree, Public Corruption, Attempted Grand Larceny in the 3rd degree, Attempted Public Corruption and 185 counts of Falsifying Business Records in the 1st degree, all felonies. She was arraigned before Judge Chauncey Watches of Steuben County Court and $20,000 in bail was set. She is due back in court on Jan. 24, 2024.

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