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New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Photo: <a href="">Awhill34</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Photo: Awhill34, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Altona bookkeeper accused of stealing public money

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State officials say a former town book-keeper in Altona in Clinton County embezzled $23,500 of taxpayer money. The alleged wrong-doing was found in an audit released yesterday by the New York State Comptroller's office.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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The report concluded that Danielle Peryea, age 34, altered cash receipts over a period of four years.  Investigators accused her of pocketing more than $18,000 dollars from the town's park and recreation budget, another $4,000 from code enforcement fees, and $800 dollars from rental fees for the town hall. 

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued a statement yesterday saying that Peryea "controlled town finances with little oversight and had no dificulty in pocketing public money."

He added that his office continues to find cases across New York state where oversight and accounting procedures are lax, allowing theft to continue unnoticed.

In this case, Peryea allegedly began altering receipts "to show a lower amount collected from the park director and code enforcement officer" in 2009.  The practice continued unnoticed until last year.

According to the Comptroller's office, Peryea admitted the wrong-doing to state investigators.  The state also says she tried to give the money back last August, after learning that an audit was undreway, but claimed that it was a "donation" to the town.

The Comptroller’s audit and investigation also allegedly revealed:

    -The bookkeeper allowed checks to remain on hand for weeks or months before deposit, including five undeposited checks totaling nearly $338,000;

    -The bookkeeper altered copies of 19 park-fee receipts to show a total amount of nearly $10,709 lower than what the park manager actually remitted;

    -The town does not have complete, accurate and up-to-date accounting records, and the town supervisor did not perform proper monthly bank reconciliations; and

    -The town board did not audit the records of the supervisor, tax collector, town clerk, code enforcement officer and park manager.

The case has been referred to Clinton County prosecutor Andrew Wylie.  Town officials have also agreed to make changes to their accounting procedures.

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