A former fire chief and police officer has admitted to stealing more than $300,000 from a Northern Westchester fire department while he was a treasurer.
Gerald Munson, who most recently served as the Croton-on-Hudson FD treasurer, has pleaded guilty to grand larceny as a crime of public corruption after admitting to stealing $312,925 from the department.
Munson was in Westchester County Court on Wednesday. At the time of his plea, he paid $124,383 in restitution, adding to the $25,000 he paid upon his arraignment.
Munson is due to be sentenced on Oct. 29, when he is expected to pay the remainder of the restitution and will be subjected to a term of between one and a half and four and a half years in prison.
While acting as treasurer for the Croton-on-Hudson Fire Department, Munson was tasked with maintaining the department’s bank account and financial records, despite having no prior qualifications or background in accounting or financial matters, according to Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, Jr.
Munson then used his position to steal and conceal his theft of the money from the fire department.
The money Munson stole included portions of the “2 Percent Money” paid annually to the fire department by New York State in connection with the state’s 2 percent tax on fire insurance.
For several years, Munson concealed his ongoing theft by altering and manipulating the department’s bank records. The alterations included the alleged underreporting of the “2 percent Money” received by the department to balance the books and benefit himself.
In February, members of the Croton-on-Hudson Fire Department’s Audit Committee discovered the misappropriations when Munson provided them with false 2017 bank statements.
When confronted, Munson admitted he had created the false statements on a home computer, that he had stolen money from the department’s accounts for his own personal use and that he had used the department’s official debit card as if it was his own.
Further investigation and analysis conducted jointly by the Village of Croton-on Hudson Police Department, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office and the New York State Comptroller’s Office confirmed that between on January 2011 and February 2018, Munson stole approximately $312,925 from the Fire Department. That joint investigation led to Munson’s arrest in June.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said that "Mr. Munson stole more than $312,000 from his fire department and abused his duty to the public. As a former police officer and fire department chief, his behavior is particularly egregious.”
“Stealing public money is a crime against all of us. It is also a breach of trust that hurts a community and those dedicated to its safety,” Scarpino said in a statement. “Rooting out corruption takes thorough investigation on the part of many departments.
"We are proud of this collaboration between our Office, the Village of Croton-on-Hudson Police Department, the Village of Croton-on-Hudson Fire Department, and the New York State Comptroller’s Office which was able to shed light on this misuse of public funds.”
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