October 26, 2016
Contact: Richard Loconte, 212-709-1691
DFS SUPERINTENDENT VULLO AND OTSEGO COUNTY DA MUEHL ANNOUNCE ARREST OF TWO MEN ACCUSED OF STEALING $25,000 FROM OTSEGO COUNTY TREASURER’S OFFICE
Investigation by Department of Financial Services and District Attorney Muehl Leads to Charges against Former County Employee and New York City Man
New York State Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo and Otsego County District Attorney John M. Muehl today announced the arrest of Lawrence Woodards, 34, of Cooperstown, and Kevin Williamson, 34, of New York City who are accused of stealing a total of approximately $25,000 in tax proceeds from the Otsego County Treasurer’s Office.
“These defendants cynically abused a position of public trust to fraudulently enrich themselves at the expense of Otsego County taxpayers,” Superintendent Vullo said. “DFS appreciates the opportunity to have worked with District Attorney Muehl and commends him for aggressively pursuing this investigation and bringing these defendants to justice.”
“This case involves two people who sought to satisfy personal greed at the expense of Otsego County taxpayers. The cooperation of Treasurer Dan Crowell and the members of his office has been instrumental in resolving this case and holding these individuals accountable for their actions,” District Attorney Muehl said.
"An office that deals with funds changing hands can never absolutely prevent theft from occurring, but it can build checks, balances and audit trails that prevent theft from going undetected and that can hold the perpetrators accountable,” Treasurer Crowell said. “In this case, we fortunately have several layers of documentation, processes in place that alert us to fraud occurring and staff members who were vigilant. We are pleased that our systems worked, but have used these events to continue to evolve and improve our efforts to protect tax payer dollars from fraud."
Woodards is accused of stealing approximately $14,000 while he was employed as an account clerk typist in the Treasurer’s Office. Investigators allege he accepted late tax penalties from taxpayers, pocketed a portion of the cash payments and then internally reported that lesser amounts had been received. He was employed in the office for approximately two years before resigning in November 2015.
Woodards is also accused of issuing three fraudulent tax refund checks totaling more than $11,000 to Williamson, an acquaintance with no ties to Otsego County. Williamson is accused of depositing the checks into his bank account and then mailing approximately half of the money back to Woodards.
Woodards is charged with two counts of grand larceny in the third degree, Class D felonies. Williamson is charged with one count of grand larceny in the third degree, a Class D felony. They could each be sentenced to up to seven years in prison if found guilty.
An investigation was opened when Treasurer Crowell contacted District Attorney Muehl to report that that Treasurer’s office employees had discovered instances of money that appeared to be missing when the day’s receipts were counted.
U.S. Postal Service inspectors assisted DFS investigators in the investigation when investigators found that checks had been exchanged by mail between the two defendants.
The defendants were arraigned on the changes before Town of Otsego Judge Gary M. Kuch and were both released on their own recognizance pending a November 16, 2017 hearing.
Deputies from the Office of Otsego County Sheriff Richard J. Devlin, Jr. assisted in the arrests.