On Monday March 20, the Town of Walworth referred a 2021 alleged misappropriation of $15,000 to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office for criminal investigation.
When the newly elected Town Council took office in 2022, they noticed inconsistencies and irregularities in the bookkeeping in the fourth quarter of 2021, left behind by the outgoing Walworth Town Supervisor Susie Jacobs’ administration.
The board then hired a forensic accountant to sort out the nature of the irregularities. It was then discovered that nearly $15,000 was misappropriated through payroll.
The new Board referred the matter immediately to the New York State Comptroller for verification. The State Comptroller office confirmed and has yet to pursue. The board also determined that it would not pursue civil litigation due to the high cost (more than the missing funds), but they did refer the matter to the Wayne County Sheriff to engage a criminal investigation.
Deputy Town Supervisor Amber Linson says, “There is no excuse for this kind of financial recklessness. The current Walworth Town Board is happy the case will continue to be pursued as we work with the Sheriff Department to see justice done on behalf of the people of Walworth.”
At the board meeting last Thursday, Town Supervisor Mike Donalty discussed the alleged misappropriated funds.
“As Walworth Town Supervisor, I speak on behalf of the entire Board today. We are angered and saddened that the trust of the citizens of Walworth has been abused. Shortly after the start of 2022, this Board discovered significant discrepancies in the Town of Walworth’s financials. Due to the complexity created by the general disorder left behind by the outgoing administration, a forensic accountant was retained to determine the exact nature and extent of the problem. It was found that apparently, in the fourth quarter of 2021 nearly $15,000 of taxpayer funds went missing.
The current Board then referred the matter to the State Comptroller for further analysis. They agreed with the forensic accountant’s assessment that money was indeed missing and to whom it was illegally disbursed but declined to pursue.”
“After much consideration and despite our outrage at the abuse of trust, this Board has also decided not to pursue the recovery. The unfortunate reason is that the cost to the Town to recover the money would far outstrip the money owed, resulting in further financial damage to the Town. What happened is wrong. Our only solace is that this incident may yet serve as an expensive reminder why it is essential to elect people of character to public office.”
Wayne County Sheriff Rob Milby discussed the current status of the allegations.
“I was approached by members of the Town of Walworth Council regarding allegations of misappropriations of taxpayer funds. A report has been taken, and an investigation will be conducted. We will certainly look into everything that is being presented to us, and we will conduct a thorough investigation. While this type of investigation is not something that we see every day, the allegations are troubling. Not only are we talking about the potential for the misappropriation of taxpayer dollars, but we are also talking about the mishandling of taxpayer trust, should there be any merit to the allegations. The completion of this investigation will include collaboration with the District Attorney’s Office to determine which charges, if any, will be appropriate. “
“There have been many requests of the Town to release records related to the case at hand, but the Sheriff has requested that those records not be released until his office’s investigation is complete.”
The Sheriff indicated that depending on the outcome of the investigation, charges could include fraud and/or larceny.