Poor oversight by trustees in the Village of Old Field allowed for a Port Jefferson woman, who served as the village treasurer, to steal nearly $60,000 without detection, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in an audit released Wednesday.
The audit, made public July 17, examined the village’s financial activities and the duties of the village treasurer from January 2009 to July 2012. During that period, auditors found more than $46,000 in “inappropriate cash disbursements” and learned $13,000 had been paid in “inappropriate payroll payments,” the documents said.
Investigators at the comptroller’s office also found that the former village treasurer, Andrea Brosnan, “falsified the signature of the mayor and deputy mayor” on 36 checks, which she allegedly cashed from a petty cash fund. The checks totaled $11,484, according to the audit. Investigators also found $11,596 in payments were made to seven vendors who did not do business with the village.
When the findings were referred to the Suffolk County district attorney’s office, Brosnan, 42, was arrested by DA’s investigators and charged with grand larceny, falsifying business records, defrauding the government and official misconduct. She pleaded not guilty to the charges and the criminal proceedings remain ongoing.
“The defendant forged the Mayor’s signature on checks, she paid her personal utilities with money from village accounts, she bought merchandise with taxpayer dollars from Amazon and other firms that sell furniture, housewares and apparel, and she applied for and obtained unauthorized gas cards which she used to buy herself fuel, cigarettes, and food,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.
According to the comptroller’s office, Brosnan used two gasoline credit cards to make “questionable expenditures totaling $11,348.” She is also accused of spending $7,432 at an office supply company for 46 orders of food, laundry supplies, a digital camera and children’s movies, investigators said. She reportedly had the company ship 41 of the orders to her home on Thompson Street in Port Jefferson.
The former treasurer is accused of trying to boost her government salary by $12,862 when she made and concealed 58 improper payments to herself for 607 hours that she did not work, DiNapoli said.
The scathing report further alleges that Brosnan made mail-order catalog purchases for an air mattress, children’s clothing, cookbooks and baseball paraphernalia. Those purchases totaled $3,404 and were also paid for using taxpayer money, officials said.
The comptroller’s office said the Board of Trustees did not perform any audits of the financial records in 2011 or 2012. DiNapoli said Brosnan was allowed to do all aspects of the payroll process for the village, in addition to maintaining custody over its bank accounts.
“The Village of Old Field learned a powerful lesson about what can happen when no one minds the store,” DiNapoli said.
The audit recommended more than a dozen steps the village must take to regain control of its finances. In a formal response to the audit, village officials generally agreed with the findings and said the village’s petty cash fund has been eliminated and gas cards were cancelled.
Mayor Michael Levine did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment, but said in a letter to the comptroller’s office that in addition to hiring a new treasurer, the village has notified their insurance company of the alleged theft and are taking precautions to further protect the village’s finances.
EXTRA: Read the full audit report by the NYS Comptroller here.