Finance

Treasurer Stole at Woodstock Fire Company

Treasurer Stole at Woodstock Fire Company

October 23, 2012
By Jerry White, Albany Bureau

The former treasurer of Woodstock Fire Company No. 3 embezzled more than $200,000 over a five year period, according to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. As a result, Dale D. Hughes, Jr., 64, was arrested and charged by Ulster County District Attorney D. Holley Carnright with grand larceny in the second degree. Hughes was arraigned before Woodstock Town Court Justice Richard Husted and remanded to the Ulster County Jail in lieu of bail.

The audit and investigation by DiNapoli’s office revealed that Hughes endorsed 83 checks totaling $200,385 that were made payable to cash. Auditors estimate the former treasurer pocketed an additional $21,000 in cash proceeds from various pancake breakfast fundraisers.

“The fire company handed the fiscal reins to this individual and he responded by fleecing the public,” said DiNapoli. “The lack of basic financial oversight allowed this fraud to continue unabated for five years. It is imperative for company officials to put systems in place to protect public dollars and prevent future abuse.”

Hughes served as the fire company’s treasurer from 1997 to 2011. The company, located in the Town of Woodstock in Ulster County, elected a new treasurer in 2012. Hughes currently serves as company vice president.

During the audit and investigation, DiNapoli’s staff found Hughes routinely failed to provide monthly written reports of disbursements to the fire company’s executive committee and that company expenses were approved for payment by the committee without reviewing available invoices.

Investigators traced much of the stolen money to Hughes’s personal bank accounts. The fire company’s executive committee – which consists of the company president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, chief officers, and three directors – was unaware of the fraud until May 2011 when a payment of $10,000 for a new fire truck bay was returned for insufficient funds.

October 23, 2012

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